Breaking Free: The Journey from Conformity to Growth

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By Martin Bouza

January 31, 2024

“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.” –

John F. Kennedy

Picture this: staying still, even when you’re on the right track, is like standing on a train track waiting to get run over. You need to grow, and you need to grow fast. What I’m about to share isn’t just about companies—it’s about life itself.

Growth is a concoction of many ingredients. As we’ve explored before, it’s about having the right team, context, industry, opportunity, and that mysterious X factor. But here’s the kicker: while some of these elements are handed to us, others aren’t. And what truly sets the pace, what propels us beyond these factors, is an insatiable desire to break free from our comfort zones, to crave more, to hunger for progress. It’s ambition, in a positive sense, in its purest form—a permanent fight against self-complacency.

There’s a way to look at this that I particularly like. In the 1950s, U.S. Nobel Prize-winning economist Herbert A. Simon developed this theory about two types of decision-makers: maximizers and satisficers. Maximizers aim to get the most utility out of their choices, while satisficers settle for what’s good enough.

I definitely identify myself as a maximizer. I strongly believe that having as many maximizers as possible in your core team is key to rapid growth. However, it’s challenging because there aren’t that many of us, and it’s not something I can teach someone else: it’s a way of life. Successful teams usually consist mostly of maximizers, with a few satisficers sprinkled in. Finding the right balance is like finding the perfect blend of spices for a delicious meal.

Maximizers often make great leaders because they push boundaries to achieve results. They’re easy to spot—they’re the ones who acknowledge there’s always more work to do, rather than saying everything is perfect. Just like individuals, companies can also be maximizers or satisficers.

Having a deeply ingrained purpose, like Arionkoder’s mission to craft better futures for humanity, is essential to avoid becoming a satisficer company. This purpose is unattainable by definition, so it pushes us to keep striving and never settle in its pursuit.

Being a maximizer can be tough, but here’s a key trick to make it easier: understand the rules of engagement. 

  • You can’t always be the best. Think about world championships—there can only be one winner. And that’s part of the journey.
  • You’ll never be the best if you don’t try to be the best. Did you know that Michael Jordan lost more times than he won but is still one of the greatest basketball players ever? Every time he didn’t win, he trained harder than before.
  • There are no guarantees of success when you make your biggest effort, but one thing’s for sure: if you don’t work for it, you will for sure not be the best. If you settle for good enough, you’ll never reach the top.

I don’t believe being a satisficer or a maximizer defines who we are as people. There are no right or wrong answers here, but my biggest tip is to be honest with yourself, without fear or guilt, and decide where you are and where you want to be. This will give you ease of mind.

Remember, the path to greatness is paved with persistence, passion, and the firm belief that you can achieve your goals. Let’s take this journey together, fueled by ambition and guided by purpose, towards a future with endless possibilities.