Fear and worry is, unfortunately, a part of everyday life. Fear of loss, fear of failure, fear of our comfortable lives being disrupted, displaced, or disassembled. As Mark Twain famously said, "I've had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened."
In all of my years leading arts organizations through organizational change, one of the pillars of thought which always helped me find courage to keep moving forward was to know that while we are going through a period of rapid change, we must always remember that we are living in societies built by visionaries, dreamers, and by individuals who were willing to take big, bold risks. Our societies, our countries, and our individual lives would not be the way they are today had those who came before us decided that what was always done was the way things would be.
Growing up in Canada, I was acutely aware that most of the cities in our young country were largely built over the last six or seven generations by people who dared to be bold. Who dared to have wild, unbridled visions about what their cities and communities would look like and feel like to live in. Living, studying and growing up in these young cities, I was regularly aware of the tremendous growth that can spring forth from human activity and ambition. Literally, the cities, organizations, and societies I was raised in were largely created or invented recently. I often get the sense that because we now live in a time when all of the major infrastructure in our lives has already been built and put into place, we so easily lose sight of the courage and big-thinking that it took to build these places up from merely the dirt in the ground. Imagine those early conversations with the dreamers and visionaries who built our cities and societies.
So, have we lost the creative spark? If we come from a legacy of builders and dreamers, where has that spirit gone? Why are we afraid of losing what has been built rather than building forward?
In my past and present work life, I have been privileged to work with many innovators and risk-takers. One of my favourites and someone I am pleased to learn from regularly is the architect Bjarke Ingels. It is hard to imagine many of my readers won't know of Bjarke, but if his name is new to you, check out this recent article from Vogue on The Most Sought After Architect in the World.
What most impresses me about Bjarke is his endless sense of possibility, his ability to see potential that others do not, and his willingness to take risks and to be bold.
In his architecture graphic novel Yes Is More, he presents an exciting world view based on limitless possibility. Whether through his power plant ski hill in Denmark, his re-imagined pyramid in Manhattan, or his innovative approach to student housing, Bjarke demonstrates what is possible when the human imagination is unleashed, whether on big or small scale projects.
As some of you may have read, Bjarke has partnered with Elon Musk on the hyperloop project--a project that will likely transform human transportation forever. Musk is another visionary who is forging our future by boldly developing initiatives in solar power, electric cars, mass transportation, and space exploration.
What is truly exciting about Musk's work is the transformative economic and environmental impact of his innovations. This is someone who uses technology's disruptive potential to solve human problems in unique ways.
In order to unleash our creative potential and think big, we cannot be driven by fear of loss, scarcity or ridicule. We cannot allow others to dismiss us as visionaries or dreamers, but rather we must be true to our inner genius, to our unique way of seeing and interacting with the world. We must build forward using the contributions of those who came before us as both legacy to preserve and inspiration to go much further. They have shown us what is possible and future generations deserve us at our best.
"Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do." - Rob Siltanen