Often in my career, I’ve found the one phrase everyone loves to tout but is rarely adhered to in practice, is the disowning of  “We’ve always done it that way!”

Colleagues, professionals, business leaders, and many other individuals love to talk about how they refuse to adhere to the standards of the past and are always progressing forward. 

Nonsense,  It took a global pandemic to change the working culture in this country and even still there are those eager to go back to the way it was before. 

This post isn’t about that though. Instead, it is about what I believe to be an even more destructive phrasing of words which typically manifest as “We’ve tried that before.”

Nothing shuts down someone’s enthusiasm more than listening to someone else tell them how their idea has been done, isn’t unique, failed in the past, or even succeeded and died out eventually. 

We all get it. It’s all been done before. There are no new ideas. Yet for some reason that does not seem to stop the movie industry from telling the same story over and over. 

“Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back” or the typical “hero’s journey” (Star Wars) make up a large percentage of the films we consume. It is even said all songs contain the same 4 chords.

What’s different is the take, the lens, the perspective, the elements, and most importantly the passion to try something new, even if it’s just new to the individual. 

So at this point, you may be thinking how COVID-19 has reshaped the field and there is little that has been done before and it’s not as often you hear people shoot down new ideas or faking enthusiasm for change. 

Today’s post isn’t about the past or present, no, it’s about the future. 

My message is to all the young professionals out there who are braving a new world today is to remember how it felt all the years prior when someone said to you “We’ve tried that before” as a way to dismiss or discount your idea and how deflating it was.

Remember how it feels to be a pioneer in a time of great industry change. 

You have the pleasure of knowing what it’s like to experience the frustration being told something can’t be done alongside doing something that’s never been done before.

Embrace that. Cherish it. Never forget it. One day someone your age now will come to you with an idea for a virtual or blended learning program and it will have all the hallmarks of your past experiences. Be open to the idea, encourage creativity, offer positive feedback, and if need be allow someone to fail so they can grow and learn.

“We’ve tried that before”….how about:

“Let’s try that again.” 

“We’ve always done it that way”…..how about 

“We’ve never done it this way.”

The next great Park and Rec idea may exist inside the head of someone half your age or younger. Will you create a culture that that amplifies it or one that extinguishes it?

My hope is the former and chances are if you’re reading this that’s your hope too.  Keep up the good work and I look forward to seeing your next big idea #InParks.

Note: This article originally appeared on AnthonyinParks.com. 

Written By

Anthony iracki

Podcast Co-Host & Contributor

Anthony Iracki is an award-winning Park and Recreation professional, speaker, podcaster, and author from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Having worked in the field since the age of 16 he is passionate about community engagement, innovative programming, and equity. Alongside his commitment to his community, he is active in the growth and development of Park and Recreation professionals and agencies through volunteer work, network leadership positions, speaking engagements, podcasting, and authoring articles related to the field.