Why the Naysayers Are Never RightFebruary 3rd
“The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys.”
Sir William Preece, Chief Engineer, British Post Office, 1878.
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History is filled with great technological achievements and their inventors – brave men and women who believed in themselves so much they were willing to put their entire professional careers on the line. Henry Ford, inventor of the automobile and Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone, are two such historic individuals. However, history is written in retrospect. Sure, it’s obvious now that the invention of the personal computer, for instance, was a huge leap forward. It made some people extremely wealthy. But just thirty-four years ago, this is what they said:
“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.”
Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp. 1977
While success rules history, unfortunately it is often naysayers that dominate the present. Don’t let them dominate your life. If, for instance, Bill Gates had listened to what Mr. Olson had to say, the personal computer revolution would never have happened. Or, more likely, someone else would have gotten his fame, his wealth and his business. Check out what some unfortunate executive who probably lost his job said about the copying machine:
“The world potential market for copying machines is 5000 at most.”
IBM, to the eventual founders of Xerox, saying the photocopier had no market large enough to justify production, 1959.
Riches only ever belong to those who dream and do big things. Naysayers are never remembered except as fools. Do you want to be remembered as someone who only listened to fools, or do you want to take a chance on your visionary ideas?
“The cinema is little more than a fad. It’s canned drama. What audiences really want to see is flesh and blood on the stage.”
Charlie Chaplin, actor, producer, director, and studio founder, 1916
“Television won’t last because people will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.”
Darryl Zanuck, movie producer, 20th Century Fox, 1946
Naysayers often come across as experts in their field. Yet, they only ever speak out because your radical dreams represent a threat to their established ideas and economy. Charlie Chaplin, a former stage actor, spoke out against cinema. Mr. Zanuck, the movie producer, said what he did because television would cut into his profit margins. People wouldn’t go out to see movies if they could watch moving pictures in their homes. Always follow the money – chances are that a person isn’t speaking so much from expertise as they are from fear that your passion will turn their world upside down. Your dreams have great power. Naysayers know this; that’s why they speak out against you, and that’s why you should never, ever listen when they try to put you down.
“There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will.”
Albert Einstein, 1932.
“X-rays will prove to be a hoax.”
Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society, 1883.
That is not to say that the road won’t be difficult. Great scientists and great inventors know this. Just because you have a dream and an idea doesn’t mean it will be easy to carry out. Following your dreams will require sacrifice, and there are sure to be plenty of long, dark nights of the soul when the naysayers’ words ring more strongly in your ears. You may have to give up money, comfort, prestige and respect in order to see your passion through to its end.
“Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction.”
Pierre Pachet, British surgeon and Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872
Louis Pasteur was not accepted by the medical establishment until the late 1880s, near the end of an entire life spent trying to convince the world of the merits of germ theory. Yet, his fearlessness to stand in the face of so much scorn for his entire life laid the foundation for modern medicine. Millions would be dead if Pasteur had listened to the naysayers and given up the fight.
“Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value.”
Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre, 1904
“A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth’s atmosphere.”
New York Times, 1936
History is always built on the backs of dreamers. However, even if your dreams aren’t so big that they shake the world to its core, they will always be big enough to shake you to yours. While not everyone is able to build jet planes to win wars, or to build a rocket to leave the earth’s atmosphere, anybody can build a future that leaves his or her past behind. Today is always a new day to begin the fight.
In the end, you have only yourself and your desire to achieve your dreams. Nobody ever lay on his or her deathbed thinking, “if only I hadn’t believed in myself so much.” The future is much too short to spend in premature regret, worrying that you can’t get to where you want to be. What else are you going to do? Watch television? Screw around online? Shy away from the passion that makes you human? Don’t listen to the naysayers who tell you that your beliefs are foolish or impossible. If you can dream it, do it until it’s done, even if the end seems so far away.
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”