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Don’t undervalue old ideas

02 September 2015, 11:09 Anne Muigai

Often, we ignore traditional know-how and opt for new ways of tackling problems and developing ideas. We forget that nearly all modern developments are built on old ideas. They are gradually developed, adjusted and revised to suit the present day and age.

But why do we tend to undervalue old ideas?

At first glimpse, we just see an idea that has been around for a long time. We thus assume that familiar concepts provide regular results. It’s common to hear people say, “This is how everyone does it, so it can’t be that good…” 

The assumption here is that since everyone knows the certain way of doing things over the years, there can be nothing significant forthcoming. Little do we know that the basics are not merely a sum of the greatest or newest ideas, but the good ideas that outlast the test of time, whether new or old.

If an old idea can give you your desired results, it makes no sense to ditch it on the basis of being “old”.

It is unfortunate that most people don’t fully use the knowledge they already have. They assume that old is outdated and therefore cannot solve the problems of today.

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Every day, every month, throughout the year and over decades, fashion gurus create new designs. New styles come into vogue, only to be replaced by others, mostly, old vintage with minor or no adjustments.

A close friend gives the example of our quest for fitness. Exercise fads come up week after week, each promising the best results. It is amazing how in our pursuit to achieve the best results, we dump the old boring routines and grab the new ones. Traditional fitness basics like lifting weights, healthy eating and walking albeit ignored, will never grow old. We will always result back to these old tricks because deep down we know they are the best.

Have you ever wondered why learning institutions recommend and use old literature? Despite the fact that there are a million contemporary books being published, rarely do schools use the latest books as references. The old books are seen to contain original and valuable content to students. In fact, someone said that old books are filled with ideas that last.

I do not suggest that we abandon creative thinking and innovation and stick to the old basics. I’m merely pointing out that sometimes we waste so much time, searching for new ways of doing things yet we can develop old ideas and achieve remarkable results. If we stop under-valuing old ideas, then we can say we have discovered the secret weapon to success; consistent execution of what we know.

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