Here are five quotes culled from the book, Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World, accompanied with a concise reflection on each quote.
- “If things go wrong, fix it. To hell with Murphy.”
Taking full responsibility for your life is, paradoxically, one of the most freeing decisions you can make. When we acknowledge that we alone control our response to all happenings we reclaim an important Self-Right. On the other hand, when we blame others for problems we give away our power to outside forces. Success often occurs when courageous people stop pointing fingers and start solving problems. Murphy’s Law is most-often cited as: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. To hell with Murphy—when things go wrong, iterate.
- “The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself.”
Nikola Tesla, one of the most brilliant inventors of all time, was able to predict the AC revolution in electricity because he could visualize it working, and then he worked tirelessly to perfect the technology himself. Gates and Jobs envisioned personal home computers for the masses—then spent a couple decades battling to make this a reality. They were victorious. Jobs did the same thing later for a centralized music player able to carry 100s (then 1,000s) of songs, and then the smartphone, and finally the tablet. Speculating about what the future may hold can be a fun diversion, but the bold predict the future by creating it themselves.
- “When faced without a challenge, make one.”
An important concept in storytelling is the notion that the size of the hero is determined by the strength of the villain. Life is no different. Human beings are attracted to and learn well from stories. Positioning yourself against a gigantic foe or challenge will help craft your company’s mission and set its priorities. It also casts your company as the lovable underdog that people love to root for.
Apple’s iconic 1984-inspired TV commercial is a quintessential illustration of this quote. They introduced the first Macintosh as a computer for the rebellious free spirit by casting the entrenched incumbent—IBM—as the notorious Big Brother. The (invented) challenge to consumers became: maintain your individualism by buying a Mac.
The size of the hero is predicated on the size of the villain. If your business does not have a real challenge or challenger, invent one.
- “‘No’ simply means begin one level higher.”
Bold’s author, Peter Diamandis, dreamed of becoming an astronaut since he was a small child. Pretty soon, though, he realized he would not be one of the rare, gifted, and lucky few NASA selects to blast off into space. Moreover, as Peter got older NASA missions became fewer and fewer.
Instead of becoming discouraged and crying defeat, Peter decided to take it one level higher. If NASA couldn’t help make his dream come true then Peter—with a lot of effort, collaboration, delegation, and determination—would achieve it by himself. He launched the X Prize, which has helped Peter and others reach orbit, and has now grown into a multi-million dollar competition focused on some of Earth’s most pressing problems. Other remarkable CEOs have taken a similar approach to space travel. Elon Musk has SpaceX, which is set to transport humans to the International Space Station this year. Bezos has Blue Origins; Branson has Virgin Galactic; and certain projects at Google’s X revolve around satellites and space.
This principle is critical, even when the aim is less grandiose than exploring the stars. Artists and business people will often have to figure out a way around scared gatekeepers. Usually these gatekeepers can be fired for an errant yes but will never lose their jobs for a safe no. You can guess which answer becomes the default. Bypassing these people to get to the owners and executives secure enough to take a chance is often mission critical. No doesn’t mean never. It means not right now—not at the level you’re trying to penetrate anyway. Don’t let no cripple you. Whether it be an inefficient bureaucracy, a self-interested gatekeeper, or any other impediment. Go a level higher and try again.
- “When given a choice, take both.”
I learned one thing in a highly technical Logic class (prior to dropping it a week in) in college: Or is not a mutually-exclusive proposition. This has had such a profound effect on my thinking since that I felt compelled to share it. It helps that it also perfectly encapsulates this quote. If someone gives you an or proposition, simply say, “yes.” If people ask you an or question where both parts are true, simply say “yes.” Training yourself to do this will not only clean up your thinking, it’ll also open you up to more possibilities and abundance. Elon Musk brought this mentality to Tesla. These vehicles would be electric and they’d be attractive and desirable to consumers. Remember: Or is not mutually-exclusive. If someone gives you a choice, choose both.
And there you have it. Fix things when they go wrong. Create the future. Find or create a challenge. Begin one level higher when you get rejected. When given a choice, choose both.