Tag: Quotes

The Iconic Think Different Apple Commercial Narrated by Steve Jobs

Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.
— Steve Jobs, 1997

To what extent does attitude play a role in creativity?

The most creative people are often the ones who have a hell-raiser trait in them, regardless of whether this comes from nature or nurture. These are the people who think different, feel different, behave different. These are the people who can’t easily fit into the square corporate box. They are rebels.

Organizations both value and despise them. Rebels non-rebels uncomfortable because they challenge thoughts, processes, and the status quo. They disrupt and dismiss. They push. They raise the bar for everyone else and they call people out. They’re not being difficult on purpose — they’re being themselves. They see things differently. And that comes with both opportunities and challenges.

Rebels create organizations and then the organizations they created reject them. You need a rebel to start something but after you reach escape velocity, complacency sets in. Rebels are ignored, dismissed, or put into a positions of failure.

Many people — especially those who are less secure about themselves — have a hard time working with people that push boundaries and challenge the way things are done. These people insulate themselves from the rebels, physically and mentally.

As complacency is eroded by competition and the relative position of the organization falls, the rebels once again rise.

Embrace the rebels. Hear them out. Not all of their ideas will be good but their perspective will be different. They will push you, challenge you, and if handled properly, ensure complacency is never the reason for failure.

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While we’re talking about Steve Jobs, this is one of the most profound points he ever made.

Getting the World to Do the Work for You

“What the pupil must learn, if he learns anything at all, is that the world will do most of the work for you, provided you cooperate with it by identifying how it really works and aligning with those realities. If we do not let the world teach us, it teaches us a lesson.”

— Joseph Tussman

The key to getting what you want out of life is to identify how the world works and align yourself accordingly. The problem is we often think the world should work differently than it does. The word “should” is important. Because we think the world should work in a way that it doesn’t, our approach is suboptimal.

Why don’t we align ourselves with reality?

Part of the answer is we don’t listen to the feedback of reality. When we don’t get the outcome we’re seeking, the last place we look is with our actions. It’s too easy to wiggle out of responsibility by blaming others and circumstances. It’s not that this approach is entirely ineffective. We eventually get the job half done in twice the time. The person working with the world, however, gets the job fully done in half the time.

The most common source of feedback is people not reality. One problem with feedback from people is that it’s hard to give someone else high quality feedback. Think about it. People will tell you a few helpful things but they’ll often avoid the big thing that’s holding you back. They don’t want to hurt your feelings. They want you to like them. That’s not the biggest problem. The biggest problem is that people rarely know much more than you do. If they had all the answers, they’d get better results.

Another form of people feedback comes from groups, institutions, and society. This is the way things have been done. And while there might be good reason for doing things the same way they’ve always been done, if you take your feedback from these folks, you’ll incrementally improve what’s already exists rather than use first principles to design something new.  If exiting institutions knew what they were doing, we wouldn’t have startups or bankruptcy lawyers.

How do we identify how the world really works?

Outcome over ego.  You are accountable for your outcomes. When you take responsibility for your outcomes you get feedback from reality. When you get feedback from reality, you adjust your behavior.

FS is an exploration of timeless insights that you can apply at work and business for better results. We don’t cherry pick from one discipline because the world is multidisciplinary.

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Still Curious? Pair with Andy Benoit’s wisdom and make some time to think about them.

Brené Brown: Your Critics Aren’t Always The Ones Who Count

Brené Brown, author of Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead with an excellent talk on how we should think about critics.

“If you’re not in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.”

—Brené Brown

I love that quote. It’s a play on Roosevelt’s famous quote. A good reminder that not all of your critics carry the same weight.

“We get to think the world is progressing when it is only repeating itself.”

If we pay no attention to words whatever, we may become like the isolated gentleman who invents a new perpetual-motion machine on old lines in ignorance of all previous plans, and then is surprised that it doesn’t work. If we confine our attention entirely to the slang of the day, that is to say, if we devote ourselves exclusively to modern literature, we get to think the world is progressing when it is only repeating itself. In both cases we are likely to be deceived, and what is more important, to deceive others. Therefore, it is advisable for us in our own interests, quite apart from considerations of personal amusement, to concern ourselves occasionally with a certain amount of our national literature drawn from all ages. I say from all ages, because it is only when one reads what men wrote long ago that one realises how absolutely modern the best of the old things are.

Rudyard Kipling in A Book of Words

The role of error in innovation

The British economist William Stanley Jevons in 1874:

It would be an error to suppose that the great discoverer seizes at once upon the truth, or has any unerring method of divining it. In all probability the errors of the great mind exceed in number those of the less vigorous one. Fertility of imagination and abundance of guesses at truth are among the first requisites of discovery; but the erroneous guesses must be many times as numerous as those that prove well founded. The weakest analogies, the most whimsical notions, the most apparently absurd theories, may pass through the teeming brain, and no record remain of more than the hundredth part.

From Steven Johnson’s Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation:

“The errors of the great mind exceed in number those of the less vigorous one.” This is not merely statistics. It is not that the pioneering thinkers are simply more productive than less “vigorous” ones, generating more ideas overall, both good and bad. Some historical studies of patent records have in fact shown that overall productivity correlates with radial breakthroughs in science and technology, that sheer quantity ultimately leads to quality. But Jevons is making a more subtle case for the role of error in innovation, because error is not simply a phrase you have to suffer through on the way to genius. Error often creates a path that leads you out of your comfortable assumptions.

Thomas Khun makes a similar argument for the role of error in Scientific advancement.

And, of course, without error evolution would stagnate. We’d be nothing more than a perfect copy, incapable of adaptation. Luckily, however, DNA—whether in the code itself or in copying mistakes—is susceptible to error so we are always testing new combinations out. “Most of the time,” Johnson writes, “these errors lead to disastrous outcomes, or have no effect whatsoever. But every now and then, a mutation opens up a new wing of the adjacent possible. From an evolutionary perspective, it’s not enough to say “to err is human.” Error is what made humans possible in the first place.”

Still curious? Susan Rosenbery found that “stress” dramatically increases the mutation rates of bacteria.

Ignorance Increases the Further Away you Are

While I’m not sure of the math, I enjoyed this quote from Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets: Surviving the Public Spectacle in Finance and Politics:

Ignorance increases the square of the distance from a given event, so the odds that things won’t work out the way you expect must be multiplied by the squares of all the intervening events.

It reminded me of what Peter Bevelin Wrote in Seeking Wisdom:

The more independent steps that are involved in achieving a scenarios, the more opportunities for failure and the less likely it is that the scenario will happen. We often underestimate the number of steps, people, and decisions involved.

Add to this that we often forget that the reliability of a system is a function of the whole system. The weakest link sets the upper limit for the whole chain.