Old beliefs, personal prejudice and dogmatic traditions can often get in the way of progress our personal lives, in business, and even in the creative arts. Since today is Hank Aaron’s birthday (February 5, 1934), it only seems appropriate to take a look at baseball history to understand the value in breaking traditional barriers.

I have to admit, I don’t know much about baseball, nor do I know much about African-American history. But even I know the names Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby, Willy Mays, and Hank Aaron. And then someone told me about Branch Rickey. Okay, Branch Rickey’s not an African-American baseball player. Actually, he’s not even African-American. But apparently he’s a legend in baseball especially as it relates to African-American history. His claim to fame is breaking the Major League color barrier by drafting Jackie Robinson to play with the Dodgers. That act wasn’t the first time Branch Rickey changed the game of baseball.

Branch Rickey brought innovative ideas to baseball training such as having spring training camps, setting up a batting cage, using a pitching machine, and wearing batting helmets. He also used statistical analysis to improve team performance. One could say he was grandfather of modern baseball training. His most innovative thinking came when he suggested the idea of recruiting players across color barriers. Branch Rickey cared more about creating the best baseball team possible than he did about prejudice, and dogmatic tradition.

One can’t say for sure if Branch Rickey grew up with racist values or not. What is apparent is that Branch Rickey loved the game of baseball, and he was determined to perfect it. He was determined to create the best baseball team possible. All of his actions were aligned with his values in being the best. Upholding a racist tradition only got in the way of his values.

Many large companies throughout history missed out on taking giant leaps forward because of old beliefs, personal prejudice, and dogmatic traditions. When a team of Xerox technicians introduced a computer that used a graphical interface and a gadget called the mouse, the executives said, “We’re in the copy machine business.” They let a company called Apple take a look, and the rest is history. When one of the employees at Kodak told an executive that Kodak should invest more development and research into digital photography technology, the executives said, “We’re in the film business.” I think we all know what happened there.

In art, Jackson Pollack questioned why the brush needed to touch the canvas at all, and invented a whole new technique for painting. Andy Warhol blurred the line between traditional art and pop culture. Norman Mailer popularized the concept of creative non-fiction.

To be truly innovative, you have to be willing to challenge traditions and pre-existing notions on how things are suppose to be done. You have to fight for what’s in the best interest of making ideas happen rather than what’s in the best interest of tradition. Sometimes, you have to be willing to think way outside the box to hit a home run.

Author's Bio: 

Young is a writer, artist, serial entrepreneur, and the creator of ideavist™. Young's mission is to help people make their ideas happen through his writing, coaching, consultations, and through speaking engagements on ideation, creativity, and entrepreneurship.

Read more of his articles, visit http://www.ideavist.com