You Can’t Do That!

When do you feel uncomfortable with new ideas? Probably when they challenge your assumptions or, worse still, your core beliefs.

It wasn’t till 1920 that American woman acquired the right to vote.* President Grover Cleveland was convinced that “sensible and responsible women do not want to vote.” Even Mark Twain, as a young man, was opposed to Women’s Suffrage (though he later changed his views). So contentious was the issue of Suffrage that protests often ended in violence. Today, it’s hard to imagine that the question of a woman’s right to vote would be an issue at all.

The most difficult environment for new ideas is when we think we are firmly in possession of “the truth” — whether about the competence of other people, the causes of climate change, or simply our own potential.

And yet, it’s precisely when we challenge our assumptions that we find the most exciting and productive ideas: surgery without knives, telephones without wires, generating energy from thin air, drinking recycled pee (as they did on Atlantis!), or a new direction for personal discovery…

Our discomfort is often the signal that a new idea may have promise. So tune in to your emotional responses. Whenever you feel uncomfortable about a new idea, pay attention — you may be on to something.

*New Zealand was the first major country to grant voting rights to women in 1893. Australia did so in 1902, Canada in 1917, the UK in 1918.

“Always listen to experts. They’ll tell you what can’t be done and why. Then do it.” – ROBERT HEINLEIN (1907-1988)

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