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Following Instructions Does Not Make You a Follower

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In a recent experiment with younger entrepreneurs, we asked 7 of them to come up with the cheapest and most effective way to customize a Lamborghini Gallardo. We knew none of them were experienced in exotic cars, and wanted to test out the idea on today’s entrepreneurs. The test was simple…

Take a 2006 Gallardo and get the most bang for the buck with a $5K budget. The most horsepower gains followed by the most visually appealing car would win. The real kicker was that we offered everyone a report on what we did to our own Gallardo that could be used as reference since these guys were not exotic car owners or tuners.

Not one of them looked over our document and all struggled to find a way but none could do it under $5K. Everyone was over 7K and had failed the actual instructions the challenge presented. Here is what one said when we asked him if he had read the actual report we gave them.

“No, because I wanted to go down my own path.”

This was not shocking at all, as many people today in corporate America switch jobs and cannot adapt because they believe they know more than their boss and do not need to follow instructions. There is a significant difference between following instructions and being a mere follower, and it seems that many don’t understand that. Just like many didn’t see value in our past experience of accomplishing the same thing they were asked to do.

Being a follower means your inability to think for yourself and your requirement of following instructions or direction given by others in order to be effective. Following instructions is simply your ability to look at what you are presented and deliver the same outcome. The place where the confusion lies is that following instructions means not thinking for yourself and while it may be ok to veer away from some segment of the instructions, it is 99% of the time beneficial to understand them and use them as a starting guideline. Someone’s past experience, even if a total failure, can have significance importance and relevance to your success and should not be taken for granted. If you find yourself always wanting to go off on your own and never reading the instruction booklet, then perhaps you might want to reconsider how much opportunity and knowledge you might be leaving on the table always starting from scratch instead of taking an existing problem or concept and improving upon it.

Anyone of these entrepreneurs could have looked at our baseline and created a better one but instead they all chose to start from scratch without a single idea of what had previously succeeded at the same challenge. Life doesn’t have to be that hard, its simply a matter of paying attention to what other have done, not what they are doing.