Do what feels wrong.
Years ago I was gifted an awesome challenge.
Reverse the mounting losses of a high tech division of GE.
And do it in 18 months (and… with no authority).
The problem was straightforward.
And so was the solution (at least on paper).
And so began my first, real learning about human motivation and cognition.
For as the poet genius John Keats wrote, “Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced.”
And did that experience ever become real for me!
(And ultimately, it was a real breakthrough for that organization).
There’s a popular belief that human beings are rational creatures.
That we make decisions by carefully weighing objective facts.
It’s simply not true.
Instead, we’re driven by our immediate perceptions and feelings.
Especially ones regarding our personal fears and desires.
So even though my solution was logically correct.
I was in for one hell of a struggle.
Because it felt wrong… to everyone.
Like backing up a boat trailer.
Or informing elite engineers that their trivial rubber O-rings failed.
And caused the death of seven astronauts.
And to make matters worse.
My solution was an assumption about a future outcome.
And no one can guarantee anything about the future.
Not even the simple act of backing up a boat trailer.
I know that truth from experience as well.
So here’s the essential question.
Can you transcend what feels wrong… to you?
Can you be in “uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason?”
Can you hold your beliefs lightly, as working assumptions, and try to prove yourself wrong?
And not through intellectualization.
But through experimentation.
Like a scientist.
Because that’s the key to success today.
While everyone else is busy following their feelings.
True innovators and leaders rebel against theirs.
They do what instinctively feels… wrong.
While most people do what’s easy, because it feels good.
They do what’s hard, because they know that others won’t.
While others analyze opportunities to death.
They jump off cliffs and build their wings on the way down.
And that’s what sets them apart.
And lands them in unknown territory.
What’s sometimes referred to as a “blue ocean.”
At the beginning of this piece, I called my past challenge a gift.
And that’s because I experienced a profusion of negative feelings.
Fear, anger, doubt, rejection.
Stimuli that forced me to pause.
And carefully choose my response.
And those are the same feelings I’m experiencing right now.
As I introduce my newly discovered philosophy to the world.
And so I try really hard to remember.
In my response to those feelings.
Lies my growth.
And my freedom.