How many times have you heard the phrase, “don’t reinvent the wheel?” It’s considered common sense and even wisdom among many business professionals, but it’s not always sound advice.
Not reinventing the wheel means taking the well-beaten path and using existing methods and systems already proven successful instead of creating your own from scratch. It sounds logical and is sometimes useful, but often keeps you stuck in mediocrity.
This advice is useful when you’re buying a car – you don’t need to learn how to build one before you can have transportation. It’s also useful for most physical activities that require tools you can buy at the store. Who wants to build their own weed whacker?
When it comes to creating a successful website, however, the tools to achieve success follow a different set of rules and aren’t bound by the laws of physics.
Proven success isn’t always proven
Part of the problem is many successful bloggers and entrepreneurs are only successful at selling systems and tools. What you perceive to be their “proven method” may not be proven at all. Screen shots of sales and income don’t prove their system is effective. This is a dangerous path to follow.
Aside from being careful whose path you follow, even following authentically successful people for too long can hold you back. Success is a mindset, not a strategy. While following someone you consider successful, don’t just repeat their actions. Find out how they operate and develop a similar mindset. You can’t piggyback them forever.
Reinventing the wheel causes extraordinary success
Although the concept of reinventing the wheel is used symbolically, the truth is, the wheel has been reinvented numerous times, creating breakthroughs in technology each time. In fact, we owe much of our modern world to those who reinvented the wheel.
The rims of wooden wheels were reinforced with iron bands, then rubber tires were made for a smoother ride. Metal spokes replaced wooden spokes, and soon inflatable tubes were created to replace solid rubber tires – the tires we use today on our bikes and cars.
Let’s not forget waterwheels, millstones, cogs and pulleys, and even the various technologies relying on spools used in the music recording industry.
When you blindly take the well-beaten path, you’ll never know if a system is inefficient and requires a redesign. When all of your faith lies in those who came before you, your lack of results will be clouded by justifications. You’ll be convinced you’re not doing it right or that you need to keep doing it for a longer period of time. You’ll go in circles trying to make it work. Any ounce of success beyond what you’re used to achieving, like a bigger monthly paycheck, will motivate you to work harder.
Einstein once said the definition of insanity is, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Don’t settle for mediocre success
You can set your sights on achieving any level of success you want, but if you stop when you’ve achieved slightly more than you’re used to, you’re turning your back on the possibility of being extraordinary.
In this thoughtful article, IP expert Robert Klinck contemplates how entrepreneurs who follow a path set by others rarely achieve extraordinary success. He explains how the authors of New York Times best seller Zero to One point out that “the most successful startups are those that create something out of nothing. In other words, businesses start from zero and get to one. Finding a business idea that will allow you to break the mold is often the key to building a truly exceptional business that will exceed all expectations.”
This is a valid point. The status quo in business is to follow leaders who achieve extraordinary results without realizing innovation, not emulation, causes those results.
Know when to reinvent the wheel
When the world has changed, it’s time to reinvent the wheel. Consider that in the 1990s, exit popups were all the rage and were shown to create more sign ups than pages without them. However, people are bombarded with popups at every turn and they no longer grab attention like they used to.
Exit popups may have been a guaranteed strategy for increasing conversion ten years ago, but times have changed and that strategy has lost its power.
Reinventing the wheel causes extraordinary success because you’re not confined to operate within the box of someone else’s limitations. Being a trailblazer might be risky, but it’s the only way to be extraordinary.
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost