Challenging the Way Things Are and Have Been

“Can I get a cup of water?”

“We don’t have water here.”

I was at a Pinkberry in LA earlier in the week overpaying for desert and I got thirsty and assumed they’d give me a drink for free. But they didn’t. And I guess I should have gotten mad–it’s pretty awful customer service–but I couldn’t. I respect the balls that that took. Somewhere along the line, someone made the conscious choice not to serve water. IKEA did it too. Someone said “Why do we pay to give everyone bags that they just throw away when they get home?” and they stopped doing it.

You can see countless examples of industries that have decided to die with whatever practices they were born with. The album, regardless of whatever musicians cry, is not a collective artistic statement. It’s just a packaging device designed to deal with fixed costs. Otherwise, iTunes would show that songs in “classic” albums were downloaded equally. Nope, 3 or 4 songs are almost always significantly more popular than others while others are almost actively disliked. But bands keep cranking out albums even though they could sell the songs online as they make them. Why isn’t the mail delivered on Sunday? Why do the newspapers still publish stock tables? Why do cars still have cigarette lighters instead of electrical outlets? And why does the penny even exist anymore?

Because no one has bothered to stop and questioned “the way things have always been.”

The United States Constitution of the isn’t a suicide-pact. Should anything else be? Things are changing at a phenomenal rate of speed. You cannot get in the habit of traditional or emulative thinking. If the data doesn’t support your position, you’re probably being generous when you call it a position. Business have at least some excuse: Bureaucracy. What excuse do we [people] have?

Written by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of Trust Me, I’m Lying, The Obstacle Is The Way, Ego Is The Enemy, and other books about marketing, culture, and the human condition. His work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared everywhere from the Columbia Journalism Review to Fast Company. His company, Brass Check, has advised companies such as Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as Grammy Award winning musicians and some of the biggest authors in the world. He lives in Austin, Texas.