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New Ideas Are Terrified

Richard Cook

Entering the world often as the only member of their species, new concepts have a hard time making friends. After all, it’s tough for them to relate to established good ideas from the past, and even tougher to find other new ideas who’ve found social acceptance.

 

Our job as artists — be we marketers, programmers, journalists, filmmakers, advertisers, poets or screenwriters — is to find a healthy home for the the best new ideas we meet.

 

That work is often as important as it is thankless, but those who do it well prove its power every day.

 

Now, here’s the part of the essay where real professionals roll their eyes (and sleeves) to say yeah, easier said than done, pal.

 

To that, I’d add: it’s just as hard to say, pal.

 

Because even the simplest, oldest, tried-and-true-est idea induces butterflies and strikes a nerve when conceived with the right timing.

 

That’s the core dilemma the persuasion industry stares down each day: how do we change peoples’ minds without scaring them off?

 

Put another way: how do you sell your truth in a sea of shiny deception?

 

The wise fishermen would remind you that nothing out-fishes live bait; that you can’t beat the real deal. And while that’s true for fish, it’s even truer for humans. Fake rewards earn accidental bites.

 

But let the fish sink their teeth into something real and you could eat for a lifetime, even after you caught a few of their friends. Credibility and honesty, it turns out, thrive in the ecosystem as much as they do in the economy.

 

Humans, like fish, try our hardest to spit out the hook once you realize it's there. Then we fight while we’re on the line and want nothing more than to feel it snap. Suffice to say, people ain't huge fans of being talked into stuff.

 

Because anytime humans are confronted with an idea in conflict with their current understanding of the world — a trait most good ideas share — the fight or flight response is triggered.

 

That’s the same neurological process triggered when you spot a grizzly bear in the woods (or for our underwater friends, a shark swims by).

 

Fight? Flight? Two terrible options if you ask me (you didn’t).

 

I propose a third: dance.


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