A recent article in Wired Magazine featured a list of principal forces which spur new innovations. One of the forces the piece discusses is the audacity of individuals. The people who change the world have to have a strong belief that they can do things better than anybody else before them and not be afraid to fail. Creating a device that fit in your pocket that could hold thousands of songs, mass producing all-electric cars, building a lathe that can do 16 operations at a time unmanned 24-7–it takes balls and arrogance to try that stuff.
Audacity is vital and ubiquitous in the machining industry. Machinists constantly brag to me that their latest setup has never been done in a particular way before. I walk into shops and engineers beam as they show off the homemade machines they’ve concocted.
Audacious personalities are often found among the most successful entrepreneurs as well. Groupon believed that retailers would be willing to offer their products at over 50 percent off to the masses and that millions of consumers would bite. Paypal believed it could make people pay for items in a way that had never done before and pay a fee for the privilege. Online brokerage firms turned the trading institution upside down by allowing traders to pay $10 per trade without calling a broker. Screw Machine World (Today’s Machining World) believed it could produce a revolutionary trade magazine for the machining industry, something interesting and readable versus the tried-and-true traditional stale trade rag. We were naive to think that advertisers would instantly flock to us for our high quality, despite our refusal to run their advertorial submissions. Had we known how hard it would be to make money in publishing, we probably wouldn’t have tried it and I wouldn’t be posting this blog.
Naiveté is an enabler of audacious ideas. Often it’s easier to try new things when you haven’t ever seen “the way it’s always been done,” or at least haven’t seen the way things have always been done for very long. That may be one reason younger people often have the fresh revolutionary ideas, while the so-called seasoned experts get stuck just doing what’s worked in the past. Historically most societies have preached conformity. Schools, religious institutions, corporations and assembly lines usually like to discourage audaciousness. Kind of sad, but the world can only take so many audacious SOBs, right? Are you one?
Question: Are schools in the United States inferior?