Breaking The Mold – Time To Think Big?

Stuck in the middle of

Everyone line up quietly.

Go in order.

If you’re #1, you go first. If you’re #2, you always go right after #1.

Start on the left and move to the right.

Start at the top and move to the bottom.

If you’re not sure, see how the others do it. Follow them.

Do any of those instructions sound familiar? Did you hear them as a child? Did you give them to your child?

So many of us have heard about being logical, orderly, doing it the way it’s always been done, and many times that’s fine.

Many times it works out well.

Many times we “don’t need to fix what ain’t broke.”


Then there’s a novel approach used by recent mega Jeopardy! champion James Holzhauer, which showed us another way to succeed on that well-known game show, one that we could at least consider.

Most contestants over the years have started at the top of the grid, with the smallest amount of money ($100) that could be won in any category. Hmmm, let’s see: the $100 or the $500 clue first?

Yes, the answers and questions at the top are easier, but the ones at the bottom won’t get harder by choosing them first.

And I see at least three ways making that choice can reward those contestants:

  1. Getting the right answer means getting a quick $500 (or $1,000 in Round 2).
  2. Getting it wrong takes away that chance from another contestant.
  3. The Daily Double is much more likely to be in the bottom row than the top one, although apparently, it’s even more likely to be in the fourth row.

While I never fully thought this through before, over the years I’ve often wondered – and sometimes yelled it at the TV – why would a contestant choose anything small, especially when there are just a few clues left? I mean, really: If the three choices left are a $100 clue, a $300 clue, and a $500 clue (or double those amounts in Round 2) … why the heck would anyone go for the $100 one?

To me, this also plays out in life. Too many times, we dutifully do it the way we or others have always done it. Whether it’s about business, money, friendships – whatever – we fall back on tried-and-true ways, not even considering how else we could succeed.

We think in small terms. We don’t look at the bigger prizes; somehow, winning something small seems to be good enough. And, of course, sometimes it might be.

But what if we dared to break the mold? What if we dared to risk something bigger? What if we looked at different ways – asked others about their thoughts – what if we took a new path?

All in all, that’s the beauty of the Village concept. Other brains. Other lives lived. Other ideas that come from other backgrounds. So many other ways to succeed, to measure success, to define success than what we might have thought of on our own.

I’ve always loved this quote by Robert Frost in his poem “The Road Not Taken”:

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”

Have you found yourself stuck in patterns that were holding you back? What have you done about that, and what would you share here to help others?


Susan Rooks
Susan Rooks
With 25 years’ experience as an international speaker and workshop leader, Susan Rooks is uniquely positioned to help people master the communication skills they need to succeed. In 1995, Susan formed Grammar Goddess Communication to help business professionals enhance their communication skills. She creates and leads three-hour “Brush Up on Your Skills” workshops in three main areas: American grammar, business writing, and interpersonal skills. And recently she created and began leading introductory workshops to help business pros maximize their LinkedIn experience, offering it to Chambers of Commerce free of charge. As a copyeditor (and editor of nonfiction only), Susan has worked on projects ranging from blogs to award-winning children’s books to best-selling business books to corporate annual reports (with clients from half a dozen countries), ensuring that all material is professionally presented and free from grammatical errors. From the beginning, Susan’s only goal was to help everyone look and sound as smart as they are.


  1. I like to break the mold in other ways, Susan. Although the Frost poem is monumental (and I don’t wish to take anything away from it nor it’s meaning), what if someone took the road less traveled by and they were jumped by thugs?
    I do agree with bucking the system and changing up the ordinary. Often it’s the best way to solve difficult problems. Your article is wonderful and I hope you know I would not ever rain on your parade. Sometimes I believe that being difficult for difficulty’s sake, is an act of rebellion and a rather very unwise maneuver.