George Bernard Shaw once said "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
Most of us think of the word unreasonable negatively; that type of person is hard to get along with or perhaps irrational. But I don't think that's what Shaw really had in mind. I think he was talking about another kind of unreasonable. Unreasonable people don't settle, aren't easily satisfied and generally choose a more challenging and difficult path.
Unreasonable people don't take the easy path. During wars, tank commanders have been known to take the same path as other tanks, sometimes by tanks "killed" in battle. Rather than serving as a warning, the failed tanks attract others. Why? The doomed tanks took the easy path and the others did the same. The lesson here is that the easy path is often mined.
The next time you're out for a professional stroll, rethink your steps. The easy path may get you to your intended destination but it might kill your enthusiasm and passion in the process. We are often too easily satisfied with our own performance, with others and our organizations. It isn't always because we're doing our best, but because we're "doing enough". Short of getting in trouble, we figure that getting by isn't a bad strategy. And, in the process, we become reasonable in complete contrast to what Shaw saw as unreasonable.
You know what we hate about aiming higher than we need to? It increases our chance for failure or disappointment. Maybe, instead of trying to minimize our disappointments, we should accept them as the cost of being unreasonable?
It's hard to do. The rush and din of business and contemporary life often feels like we're isolated in a crowd. Getting rid of old ideas feels like we're losing or even destroying something. But Pablo Picasso once said that "Every act of creation is first an act of destruction." The most creative ideas you may come up with isn't an addition to an existing one, but a totally fresh concept.
The hardest part is giving up those ideas that have served us well in the past. Some are timeless principles that will serve us till the end of life, but others are like books we'll never ready. They weigh us down and take up space that could be better occupied. G.K Chesterton believed we need to go backward to go forward, that the old timeless truths were the foundation upon which to build.
I tend to agree, but am often challenged by how to frame new structures on old foundations, especially lately.
Sometimes we confuse the framing with the foundation.
Unreasonable people gravitate towards the remarkable. Shakespeare said we're all actors on the stage of life. True. But we have several stages; at work, at home, in our community. I admit to having an increasing interest in performance, in how well we perform our roles. If you don't perform well, you perish on whatever stage it is. You don't just disappear like vapor, but you disappear from that stage, that company, relationship, project or involvement.
Performance by itself doesn't make a person good, but a good person makes a performance. I want you to think about how remarkable (or not) your important performances are these days. Are you settling for getting by or aiming for getting great?
So, here's to being a little less "reasonable" and much more frequently unreasonable and hopefully, remarkable too.
Just remember words from a pioneer in self help movements, Orison Marden, who said " Deep within humans dwell those slumbering powers; powers that would astonish them; that they never dreamed of possessing; forces that would revolutionize their lives if aroused and put into action."
It has been wisely observed that you only live once, but if you do it right, that's enough.
Aspire higher. Get rid of some stuff. Contemplate on what you're truly accomplishing, not just how busy you are. Look up from the grindstone. Then choose one thing this week and for the new year rushing towards that you'll make remarkable. Then, go for an encore.
Thanks for reading