The Comfortable Trap of Familiarity

Familiarity is where we are comfortable, certain, and secure. It is the basis of experience, predictability, and even reliability. But too much ends up no longer being an asset.

When you only know one thing, and want to make everything you do fit that one thing, familiarity is no longer a strength, but a weakness.

We see this in software choices, where someone tries to do everything with a single solution. We see it in food choices where we refuse to try anything new. We see it in our choices in style, problem solving, and the brands we use.

What frustrates me in business, is when people fall back on familiarity when it is to their disadvantage. One person wants to use HTML for everything, even those things that it should not be used for, instead of finding a more appropriate and functional solution. Another wants to make WordPress do it all – which it was never intended to do and does badly if you push it too far. A third won’t try networking because it is out of their comfort zone.

I like familiarity. But I realize that sometimes it is a trap that stops us from seeing what can be a more effective way.

I’m not talking about breaking rules that should not be broken. The rules that make sense and protect us. I’m talking about thinking outside the box and considering new methods when we are beginning to get bogged down in the existing routines.

Many times, familiarity lulls us into thinking that there cannot be an easier way, when in fact, the learning curve is often low, the time saved from the right step forward will yield profits over and over.

Take the time to honestly weigh the benefits against the drawbacks. And consider it for the long term, not just the short term, because that is generally where the biggest benefits are realized.

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