Conventionalism the second-best excuse for doing nothing

"Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.“ – John F. Kennedy

Conformity Holds You Back from Success. Doing your own thing lets you flourish well beyond greater creativity and attention. With the Conventional scale of the Circumplex model we measure tendencies to act in conforming way. While some conformity is necessary in life, too much can be restrictive. A conventional behavioural style represents a preoccupation with adhering to rules and established procedures, maintaining a low profile, and "blending in" with our environment to avoid calling attention to ourselves. When we rely on established routines to determine how we do things, we risk losing our Sense of uniqueness and individuality.

Conventionality can become a mask to hide behind. Because team members want to be seen as “normal," they might stick to doing things, the way “they have always been doing" and try never to rock the boat. Consequently, others tend to view these individuals as somewhat dull and uninteresting. Although conventional people are typically responsible and reliable, their preference for maintaining the status quo can substantially reduce their creativity and level of achievement.

What are the causes and symptoms of this sin?

  1. A tendency to view rules as a source of comfort and security
  2. A preference for staying unseen and unnoticed
  3. A tendency to cover up mistakes
  4. Reduced initiative
  5. A preoccupation with appearing average,"normal," and like everyone else
  6. Unquestioned obedience to authority figures and rules
  7. Feelings of security within a bureaucracy

Inevitably, this sin creates unwritten laws such as (Not “rocking the boat”) or (accepting the status quo).

These types of norms prevail in organizations that are conservative, traditional, and bureaucratically controlled. Members are expected to conform, follow the rules, and do things the way they’ve always been done. Pressured to follow procedures, people “on the front line” are unable to introduce new ways of doing things, adapt to the changing needs of clients, or cut through the rules to satisfy legitimate client expectations.

Who hasn't heard that famous line from the cult film Shrek? "What!!! that's not in my job description". Indeed, this phrase is the clearest way of seeing conventionalism, but laziness should not prevent us from seeing all those other forms that hide behind arguments such as: "it is in our DNA", "we have always done it this way", "if our values" … I think the reader has already heard many more examples from the last meetings he or she has had, haven't they?

How can this sin be avoided?

If you commit it:

  • Recognize that conventionality is a way of hiding yourself and avoiding developing as a person. By giving up control of your life to outside factors, you become a mirror that reflects the expectations of everyone but yourself.
  • Break out of your routine and do something-anything-different. Eat in a new restaurant, take an unexplored route to work, or buy something in a colour you normally don't wear.

If you have an organization:

  • Recognize and appreciate the things, do it differently
  • Make the sentence "no risk, no fun" your own

Don't miss our next article, in which we will unfold Dependency as a false commitment. If you want to know more about how to manage change and build resilient organizations, contact us!