The Future

Doers vs. the World

No one thought Elon Musk would be able to compete head-to-head with the major automobile manufacturers and take market share from them.

But he did.

No one thought Elon Musk would be able to build the world’s largest battery factor in the Nevada desert. There’s too much red tape, it will cost too much, and it will be too late to save Tesla.

But he did.

No one thought Elon Musk would be able to convince 325,000 people to put down $1,000 for a car that isn’t even built yet and that won’t be delivered until the end of 2017 at the latest.

But he did.

No one ……wait…..

Forget everything I just said. It’s wrong. In fact, there were some people who thought Elon Musk could could mass produce a car, compete against the majors, build a battery factory, etc. Most obviously, Tesla employees.

But most people thought Musk was nuts. And that’s because anyone who accomplishes anything of significance is going to confront more naysayers than doers.

The world is full of “conventional wisdom,” one of those phrases that quite literally means the opposite of the words used. Using the word “wisdom” to describe people who don’t think doesn’t really fit, does it?

It used to annoy me, the predictability of it all. Here you would see a visionary man or woman and then surrounding him or her on all sides were the snipers, the critics, the reactionaries. “How could these people enjoy being critical of everything? How is that their default state?” I’d think, wondering why everyone wasn’t a strong (and maybe naive) optimist who believes our future as a species is bright.

Musk and Tesla had a lot of naysayers. People who pointed out all the problems and difficulties. Wall Street analysts. Commentators in the media. Executives of big auto conglomerates who’ve never known anything different and can’t see the future or don’t want to see it either way it’s the same worldview and means they will never accomplish something significant or meaningful but instead maybe they squeak out another few percentage points of profit by doubling down on the marketing budge or coming up with a cool marketing campaign or changing or tweaking a few meaningless features of the car but not actually re-inventing anything at all.

The naysayers are right. Heck the naysayers are probably right more than they are wrong, innovation being as rare as it is.

But the naysayers never get anything truly meaningful done, either in their own lives or in the lives of the community around them. They are too busy looking backwards to see what’s right in front of their face.

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