Is this how you choose opportunities? Don’t!

To pursue big opportunities, you can’t be a rule taker. If you’re a rule taker, you’re just another commodity producer of the same old thing. You’re like a cover band, that sings other people’s music. Cover bands don’t attract massive resources and don’t create hits that take them to the top of the charts.

To pursue great opportunities, you can break the rules by singing an old song in a popular new way. It’s even better if you make new rules by creating your own unique and distinctive song.

Think of all the great artists whose music is still popular today.

Does Jimmy Hendrix sound like anyone else? What rules did he break and make?

Do the Beatles sound like anyone else? What rules did he break and make?

Does Elton John sound like anyone else? What rules did they break and make?

Do the Rolling Stones sound like anyone else? What rules did they break and make?

This lesson obviously doesn’t just apply to music. It doesn’t matter what business you are in. If you’re just a rule taker, you’re also a price taker, because you’re a commodity. This is not a good place to be.

You must never choose your opportunities by using a xerox machine, and simply copying the dominant rules followed by the rest of the pack. You must break and remake the rules in some unique way, even in some small way, that unlocks value for your customers.

Of course, it’s not enough to be different. You can make new rules that destroy value. Don’t make rules for fools. To be true opportunities, your new rules must be positive adaptations to change that create value for you and for all your stakeholders.