I was reading my favorite tech site today (HackerNews) and came across something that resonated with me.
I was doing what I always do, which is to jump straight to the discussion/comments without actually reading the article in question. This particular article was about Rivian and the fact that Amazon had pre-ordered a large amount of vehicles. Rivian is an electric car company that is focusing on electric trucks, but they haven’t actually delivered any vehicles yet.
Of course people start talking about Tesla, and as is the case, Elon Musk. One person in particular was quite passionate. The comment in question was:
“Tesla took so long for production because Charlatan-In-Chief didn’t want to use any of the lessons learned about Auto Manufacturing the past 100 years and decided to do it his way.
Charlatan-In-Chief also assumed he knows more about A.I and Robotics than many who warned him about his ‘Alien Dreadnought’ vision.
Rest assured people who are focused on building mass cars won’t have the same hubris“
Maybe passionate is not the right word. Anyway, clearly this person has a beef with Mr. Musk. I get it, actually. Elon has a lot of questionable qualities. He tweets carelessly. He says things that he does not always deliver on. He lacks tact, most noticeably when he publicly says critical things about other people and companies. One can only imagine what he is like in private.
But there is a famous quote by George Bernard Shaw that says:
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
I consider myself a reasonable man. I try to accept things in life that I know I can’t change and I truly believe it makes me a happier person because of it. But I also realize that Mr. Shaw’s quote is spot on. Incremental changes don’t require someone particularly unreasonable, but large, sweeping changes absolutely do.
You don’t have to be unreasonable to see the need for change, but you do need to be unreasonable to fight the status quo. People hate change. And when we are talking about whole industries that have created a lot of wealthy people, well, change is just that much harder. Fighting that takes someone of a ‘special’ character.
It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that Elon Musk is successful despite his lack of tact and unrealistic expectations, but in reality, that is exactly what makes him successful. He may not be the man we want, but he is the man we need, if we want things to change.
Now that I understand this, I keep just a little bit of unreasonableness in my ‘toolbox’ and I take it out when I feel there is something in my small world that I can make better.