Wanted: Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus was right. It’s simple. The world was not flat, and you could sail West and reach Asia. Was he exactly right? No. But, he was right enough.

What makes Columbus impressive is his fortitude and courage to stick to his idea. Few people believed he was right. It took tremendous strength to swat off the naysayers and persevere.

Being a Christopher Columbus isn’t easy. Great ideas are great because no one has thought of them. They are great because they challenge the status quo and what we know to be true. Great ideas are great because they challenge conventional wisdom. There are GREAT rewards to be had by embracing contratrian views. Yet, new, creative, outside of the box ideas are not readily embraced until AFTER they are realized.

Warren Buffet: Beware the investment activity that produces applause; the GREAT moves are usually greeted by yawns.

Unfortunately, when conventional wisdom and the status quo are challenged people become scared or dismissive. Our existence and security rests in our confidence of the world around us. When the validity and reality of our secure world, or what we believe to be true is challenged we resist and fight. It’s our nature. We embrace security.

It takes tremendous, strength, courage, and fortitude to challenge conventional wisdom and the staus quo; and this is exactly what Columbus did.

It’s a lonely path for the maverick, or the idea pioneer. They need to be strong, determined and thick skinned. The Christopher Columbus’s of the world are considered, irritating, a distraction, loony, and out of touch. They are attacked or minimized. Being a Christopher Columbus is a lonely path.

Creativity and innovation don’t rely on what we know to be true, and they don’t fit well on a spreadsheet. This makes them difficult to quantify. This is a problem in today’s world because far too often, if something can’t be easily quantified it will never see the light of day.

Apple completely changed the mobile phone industry because they looked at things differently; Apple wasn’t bound by traditional Mobile Carrier thinking. It is NOT a coincidence there is little difference between the big 4 mobile phone providers. They look alike because their cultures drive conformity, not because no one within the Mobile Carriers has innovative, game changing ideas. It’s because they don’t have a Queen Isabella. The person(s) willing to embrace and act on the ideas.

Who are the Christopher Columbus’s in your company? Who are the people challenging the status quo? If you don’t know, either they’ve already left because they weren’t being appreciated or they’ve been silenced. If they haven’t left find them, they are ones who just may make the biggest difference in the next year.

Tough times require creativity and innovation. Tough times demand changes in the way we think; the Christopher Columbus’s need to be embraced and conventional wisdom challenged.

If you can’t be a Christopher Columbus, then at least be a Queen Isabella.