Friday, January 30, 2009

Stick to your knitting.

"Stick to your knitting" - advice to continue doing what you know rather than something you know very little about. This cliche has been a favorite of late with financial newswriters covering the demise of one company after another. The more dire the markets, the closer everyone should cling to the things they know, they say. Start-ups: stop! Outside the box thinkers - get back to square one! The downside of risk-taking is that the flipside of success is abject failure.

Yet, if everyone followed that advice, where would we be?

  • This admitted homebody would never have ventured to the Dunwoody Nature Center, opening new experiences in composting, hiking, website management, wielding a nail gun, building makeshift fences, and other cool stuff. (Hey, if a wimpy indoor gal in her middle years can fall in love with the outdoors, anyone can!)
  • Eleanor Roosevelt would have stayed "in her place," doling out tea in the parlor and nodding her head pleasantly to one and all. Instead of becoming a force in her own right.
  • The people of Dunwoody would have agreed with the avuncular DeKalb County professionals that running a city is way too difficult for the average person. Ahem.
  • Ray Kroc would have been a mediocre salesman of milkshake machines rather than the guy who thought about branding cheap eats.
  • The women behind the Twist Collective would have continued designing for other companies rather than create their own innovative forum. Way to go.
  • Ravelry. Enough said.
  • Kemmons Wilson would have stayed in the homebuilding business instead of coming up with the crazy notion of a national motel chain. You may have stayed in one: Holiday Inn, the first mainstream roadside inn network in America.
I consider myself a fiscal conservative and have a very low threshold for risk-taking. Yet I admire big thinkers and am awed by their passion and energy. It's easy to hunker down and cling to the tried and true when retirement funds are depleted and people are out of work.

We need risk-takers to regain our momentum. America has always thrived on ingenuity, people who can start something in the garage and change the world with a single idea. So I wish you success. We're all the richer for what you achieve.

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