Rezaf Diary

I'll write about my daily life, as a PhD Student at the University of Illinois. I'll put some photos from my town, Urbana, and some music.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

To be a pioneer, or to conform?

I have been thinking a lot recently, and have realized a few things about how we behave in a society. The following is an observation regarding this. I have always liked to be the contrarian. To be the pioneer, the challenger to the status quo. The one who comes up with bold, new ideas. It is a romantic notion, going against the odds and beating it.

But lately I have come to a new conclusion: The society rewards conformance. It doesn't like a pioneer, it is scared of him. When you want to join another group of people, whether it is a job in a company, a social group or anything else, they look for conformance to what they think you should be, not who you are.

Is the life of a pioneer one of perpetual loneliness, always fighting against the world alone? And how do leaders attract others to their cause? One obvious way is extreme conformance, otherwise known as populism. But what about the true pioneer with a vision? How can he attract a following?

The only solution I can think of is to curb your enthusiasm for a while. Conform to the standards, join a group, and make them accept you as a member. Only then you can gradually start to move the whole group towards your vision. In this respect, human society acts as a cold-blooded frog, which you cannot drop in a boiling pot, but can leave in a pot of cold water and slowly raise the temperature to boiling.

This might look sad, but it is hard and cold fact of life as a human being.

Consider the following two scenarios, where a hiring team discuss two candidates after interview.
A) "This guy is not bad. I'd score him a B, maybe a C. But he knows how to do what we do. And John and Jane are about to retire, and we need to keep the wheels rolling. Let's hire him, we can always teach him to better do what we do."
B) "Man this guy is good, very good! He's definitely an A player! But, he has some crazy ideas. He even suggests we change the way we work! What he says might work and get us rich, and he has the credentials. But I'm still worried something might badly go wrong. I don't know man, he's too risky".

Results: the first guy gets hired, even though he's technical level is C. The second guy, a motivated pioneer with A-level technical qualifications is deemed too risky and is left out.

Talk about priority inversion!

Note: Click on the photos to enlarge them.

If you feel interested in any of them and want to get the original file, please don't hesitate to email me!


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