There is no doubt that people who are not satisfied with the status quo change the world. Innovators change the course of history. Many of history’s most creative people were nonconformists. They found new approaches so solve everyday problems. The world desperately needs to embrace and cultivate more innovation to solve the many global problems facing humanity today.
We normally think of innovators as exceptional nonconformists who break the rules, defy conventional wisdom and always think outside the box. But innovators leverage their freedom from traditional institutions and basic laws of life to figure out what can be done different, better and what should be improved. Many human achievements rely on what works to invent what could be possible.
Innovation almost always requires some kind of long period of traditional learning. Einstein could not have advanced physics if he didn’t know enough basic physics. You can’t reject the means of achievement when it’s a basic foundation for progress. Steve Jobs didn’t become an innovator and the CEO of Apple until after spending decades struggling to master the world of business and design. Once his skills were honed, he returned to Apple and his brilliance had the perfect environment to innovate.
Elon Musk could not have launched world-changing global technologies companies without the basic foundation of physics and business. In the March 2007 issue of Physics World, when asked how his interest developed in physics, Musk said:
“When I was 17, I moved from South Africa to Canada, and then to the University of Pennsylvania to study a dual degree in business and physics. It was an unusual combination, and I enjoyed the physics more.”
He further said, in response to how physics helped his career, “I think physics gives you a mental framework for problem solving. It also teaches you to be willing to admit you’re wrong.”
Elon embraced a framework called “first principles reasoning,” to solve problems from a different angle, potentially making much better decisions.