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Your brain’s law and order department. Obedience ensures you conform to the correct ways of doing things so you don’t get into trouble.

Why the habit exists

Obedience’s duty is to serve and obey. It recognises there needs to be a certain amount or order and conformity to prevent the onset of chaos. As such, it will do its utmost to uphold the rules. Obedience ensures it’s very easy to stick with what we’re given without questioning. In neuroscience, this is known as a ‘zero-risk bias’, where our brains crave certainty and fear unknown consequences.

Obedience also hates dealing with too much complexity so it creates assumptions to simplify thinking and create mental shortcuts that don’t need to be questioned continually. This creates a tendency to make estimates and assumptions based on what is most easily remembered.

So if you’ve already experienced a certain way of doing something, these mental shortcuts don’t need to be questioned the next time round. As you repeat your assumptions, they become more and more accepted over time. Such thinking patterns can generate unwritten rules.

How it holds you back

Obedience is always worried about the consequences of doing the wrong thing and will often blindly comply without stopping to question. It lives by the way things are ‘supposed’ to be done and is regimented in carrying out orders. But most rules are merely assumptions that become more and more accepted over time. That creates barriers that keep us blind to other possibilities. Once assumptions are reinforced, they become locked and we never think to question why things were ever that way in the first place.

Obedience can even stop you from ever wondering if there might be a better way of achieving a result and will force you to simply knuckle down and accept the way things are. Questioning authority or assumptions is simply not in its nature. Obedience makes you more inclined to take things for granted and carry out instructions too trustingly without stopping to question if it really makes the most sense to do so.

With a strong tendency to follow the rules, Obedience makes you more likely to back down if you get a hint of a reason why something shouldn’t be done, instead of exploring creative workarounds or alternative approaches. This means your decisions are based heavily on what you perceive to be the acceptable or permitted way. However, preconception is mental contraception!

How you can train it

To overcome the restrictions of Obedience, you can consciously choose your mindset in the following ways:

From complying to questioning

By continually stopping to question existing actions, you can identify and remove existing reasons and associations that are blindly accept or taken for granted. Once these are clear, your mind is free to explore alternatives.

From restrained to maverick

Innovation doesn’t play by the rules so let your mind off the leash and find ways to purposefully disrupt the rules and norms to see what might happen.

Quick trick

Turn rules into questions. Take a statement or assumption that you believe to be true then simply add a question mark. Turning a rule into a question changes your mindset immediately and sets you free to explore creative ideas. For example: cars need drivers?

Explore all the Creatures

Creatures of Habit Quiz

How much does Obedience influence your mindset and decision making? Find out with the Creatures of Habit Quiz.

Creative workshops and events

Looking for some extra creative inspiration? Invite the Creatures to your team workshop or event and learn how to become more creative than ever before.