Mark Twain is credited with saying “The man with a new idea is a Crank, until the idea succeeds”. Most of us are the type that stand and point fingers at the “Cranks” and, being the reasonable people we are, tell them why the idea won’t succeed. Maybe we’ll even provide historical data to support our position or do a survey to demonstrate that they don’t know what they’re talking about. Thank goodness that they ignore us. If not, we wouldn’t have seen many of the great achievements in history. This quote from George Bernard Shaw tells us why: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
Think about it. We would have no real advances in anything if everyone was “reasonable” and just followed the crowd or gave up when told it was impossible. Consider Henry Ford. Conventional wisdom said that what people wanted in the way of transportation was faster horses. Instead of breeding horses, he adapted the world to himself and brought us the automobile. And how about those Wright brothers? The prevailing opinion at the time was that the only way humans could fly was in a lighter-than-air vehicle (e.g. balloon, blimp). When sequencing the human genome was first proposed at a scientific conference in the mid-1980s, it seemed so absurd that many scientists just laughed it off. Except for a few hundred small gaps, the sequence was completed in 2003.
The lesson here is that even very smart people have blind spots that keep them from embracing ideas that end up being truly world changing. Perhaps it is bias rooted in their previous experience, education, and training. Perhaps it is hubris or stubbornness. Perhaps it is fear or risk-aversion. Perhaps it is a lack of vision. And there are the “unreasonable” people. Perhaps they succeed due to their superior vision of the future. Or maybe they manage to do the impossible because they don’t know it is impossible. Don’t discount the ideas of younger, less experienced and/or less educated minds. That “naive” question may show you the way to do the impossible. True visionaries understand that what is impossible today is feasible tomorrow. I say live in tomorrow.
Don’t be reasonable,