Crank or Genius?

A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.” ~ Mark Twain

I saw two movies over the last few days that illustrate a valuable point.

The first, Babe, is the story of a young pig and the farmer who ends up owning him. They buck convention by entering Babe – the pig – in a sheep herding competition and astonish the crowd by Babe’s perfect “10.0” performance.  The second, The Secret of Nikola Tesla, covers the remarkable life of a young inventor and engineer whose bold and revolutionary ideas were constantly shunned by the establishment but later praised by the same.

To give life and form to original thought you must face a great many obstacles including, but not limited to: the ire of the critics, the jealousy of the competition, the greed of the “backers” and the capriciousness of public opinion. When such odds are stacked on top of an already fragile self-esteem it is no wonder that most people prefer to move along with the herd instead of charting a less popular course that they know to be true.

If you are right and know that you are right, don’t give up. You will find a way to make your point. Take care not to make it out of reaction to the reaction, if you know what I mean. If you do what you do to prove to somebody else who said you couldn’t do it, you have failed at a certain level, no matter how successful the outcome. If you, on the other hand, do what you do because it is in fact the right thing to do, regardless of of how you or anyone else feels about it, then you will be fulfilled, regardless of how widely accepted that which you bring is in the short or even long-term.

If you are right, it will prove out in the long term. Your harshest critics may end up in the stands clapping and cheering you on. You just never know. Those who you thought you could count on may turn on you in the process of becoming. Again, you never know.

Every one of you who reads my blog has something important and original to bring to this world. I do not possess enough faith to believe that the complex array of factors and processes that led to your birth and subsequent development did so that you could become a mediocre person who never does anything of much import.

The question is: are you willing to do the work required to reveal it through your living?


8 thoughts on “Crank or Genius?

  1. Colin

    There is a lot of pressure from many sides against people who want to innovate and be better or different. You can expect it if you are planning to raise the bar at all. The good news is that you can prepare for it so that you do not “react to the reaction”, because that is part of the strategy of those who do not want you to succeed. The second you give up control of yourself, you have lost. That is part of what you were describing; the work that you need to do to be successful. I am willing to do it, and I appreciate the resource you are putting together in this blog to help expedite and innovate that process as well!


  2. Ricardo B.

    I think that’s the big difference between being a quack or being a genius – was there true work involved? Quacks tend to be fly-by-nights whose attempts at work do not have lasting influence for their aim tends mostly to be self-serving in my opinion, which immediately puts a ceiling on things. Genius seems not to be concerned as much with self-importance as it does with the importance of the quality of conditions around one, be them social, political, technical, moral or spiritual. Heck, perhaps it always involves all to some degree.
    The key thing that strikes me is the work, true work even in the face of all the potential deflators you mentioned. The stories are inspiring and that really does help lift the spirits when skies get cloudy. I appreciate these posts as they consistently help me strive towards excellence in all matters!


  3. Mark Miller

    Nice Twain quote, and thanks for the introduction to Tesla for me (believe it or not I haven’t heard of him, but look forward to checking his work out further).


  4. Vincent

    The source of perhaps the deepest comfort in life, especially given the layers of illusion that tend to pervade human interaction, lies in the fact that the truth is true. It cannot be altered or ultimately supressed; it cannot be destroyed. It will, in the end, become apparent. If we are concerned for ourselves, that could be seen as vindication, but if our love is for the truth itself, vindication is of no interest. We are eternally thankful for the immutable nature of the truth, and for the opportunity to be exercised by it, to the very highest of our vision and regardless of seeming outcomes.


  5. James

    Hi Gregg,

    Thanks for a great post today, I am a big fan of Tesla and I always wonder how much further we would be along if there had not been the muddle of backers and patents and all the other systemic junk that reduced his immediate impact.

    However, his spirit lingers on in the brain of mankind and every day it seems more and more comes from the seeds that he sowed.

    In answer to your question, yes, I am willing to do the work required to have it be borne out by my living.

    Thanks for another salient post.


    1. Gregg Hake

      Me too, James. The movie depicted his commitment to his vision well, and while we didn’t see the fulness of what he had to bring in my view, we are certainly blessed by what he managed to bring through despite the powerful obstacles.

      Thanks for your comment.


  6. happytobehere

    I believe each has a pivotal roll to play in the present. If public opinion is important then our true reason for being here will likely not be discovered. The old adage of not being able to serve two masters is true. Wonderful reminder, thanks.


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