Several years ago Apple Computers began to use "think different" as an advertising slogan. Though grammatically awkward ("different" is being used as an adverb, and should therefore use the -ly ending), it is certainly a good motto for leaders. The phrase also describes one of George Washington's key leadership principles. Besides his concern for posterity and his ability to accept and renounce executive power at-will, George Washington exhibited the ability to "think different."
Washington's refusal to play by the standard rules of European warfare helped his rag-tag army survive and eventually overcome the threat of the British Army. However his ability to "think different" predates the Revolutionary War. His entrepreneurial spirit demonstrated itself in how he managed his Virginia plantation. At the time, Virginia planters typically relied on tobacco, which was to be sold in English markets. Washington felt that he never received a good return from England on his tobacco crops, so in 1766 he ventured into other crops. These ventures included successfully growing wheat, milling it himself, and selling it locally. He also harvested fish from the Potomac and produced clothing for his workers.
Though traditional methods may seem safe, they are not always best for you or for those you lead. Those who truly want to lead others (and themselves) to new successes must "think different." The first step in learning to "think different" is to consider the areas of your life that are bound by tradition. Tradition in itself is certainly not a bad thing, but an unreflective submission to tradition will keep individuals from discovering their full potential.
IDEA LEADER: In what ways are you bound by tradition? What are three particular ways you can "think different" this week?
Photo: Diego Medrano