When being creative, is it always better to listen to people who are older and wiser?
Today, a post on Phil Gerbyshak's Make it Great! blog started me thinking. Phil writes about his experience growing up in small towns and how he had to fight to prevail over the misconceptions that people formed about his potential.
It's a great story, and every creative thinker should read it.
Why? Because anyone who comes up with a radical new idea will most likely have to fight for it against hordes of unbelievers.
Consider some of the statements previous innovators have faced:
- "This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us." (Western Union internal memo, 1876.)
- "Who the h*** wants to hear actors talk?" (H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927)
- "The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a 'C,' the idea must be feasible." (A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith's paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. (Smith founded FedEx not long afterwards.)
- "A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make." (Response to Debbi Fields' idea of starting Mrs. Fields' Cookies.)
- "We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out." (Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.)
- "Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You're crazy." (Drillers whom Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist in his project to drill for oil in 1859.)
- "Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value." (Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre. [Higher School of War])
- "No flying machine will ever fly from New York to Paris." (Orville Wright.)
- "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." (Attributed to Thomas J. Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943.)
Luckily, those wise statements weren't listened to by stubborn inventors. They thought they could... they knew they could... and they did!
Just goes to show how good ideas can completely redefine how people view the world.
Any other examples?
And thanks again to Phil for starting this train of thought! I'm glad he didn't listen to the bad advice he received!