Design the World Around Your Ideas, Not Your Ideas Around the World

A common point of frustration I encounter involves coming to odds with the world around me (and other people in it).

When I was younger, this was often a function of assuming someone else should respond a certain way โ€“ of expecting other people to respond the way I would things.

Eventually, I learned a better strategy is to assume people experience the world differently than I do.

As I’ve aged, I’ve come face to face with a similar challenge. Not only with people, but with tools, experiences, rules, institutions.

The frustration usually occurs when someone or something claims, “That’s not the way this works,” or “That’s not the intended use of XYZ.”

I encounter these “invisible” obstacles often.

Usually it’s the function of someone who’s a stickler for tradition or rules. Real letter-of-the-law types, who can’t see past dried ink to the spirit of things.

Anyway, whenever I was younger, I often felt the temptation to change myself when I encountered obstacles. As if I needed to mold myself to the world around me, to become a more amicable, compliant, and likable person.

But now I recognize the error of my youthful thinking.

We do not improve our world when we accept things as they are. Occasionally, when we find ourselves up against immovable object, we’ve got to become an unstoppable force.

What’s the alternative, anyway? Living out a life of frustration?

I say no to that.

I’d rather create the world I want than force myself to settle for a world that is less than it could be.

Whenever I encounter obstacles now, I try to turn the tables. Instead of asking questions like, “How does it work?” I like to ask, “Could it work this way?”

Sometimes when you read the user’s manuals of life, all you can hope to find is a set of instructions for intended use. Which offers a limited view.

If you can learn to look at the world through a lens of possibilities, everything opens up.

This is especially relevant when learning new things.

Maybe we do have to learn new things along a specific domain before we can apply them others. Like learning the alphabet before we can learn to write a novel or deliver a keynote.

But the real use of our ideas lies in our ability to move beyond specific, limiting domains โ€“ and instead learn to shape the world according to what could be.

That’s the world I want to live in.