The Unreasonable Man

Creating the world around yourself

We often pride ourselves on how reasonable and logical we are.  We see it as a strength. Our ability to gather the data and information, to analyze it and make sense of it, and then to act on it are strengths. They are assets we can use to generate results and create wealth.  But is being reasonable and logical really so?

George Bernard Shaw, one of the great literary figures of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, once said: “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”

Think of it.  The reasonable man (or woman) works from what they know and looks to move to a place they know. They stay within the boundaries of the existing map; they have no desire to explore the territory of “Here be Dragons” as used to be marked on old maps when people did not know lay beyond their existing knowledge.  

If you are a reasonable person you do not challenge the status quo, you work within existing constraints and assumptions without wondering if they are right or even valid anymore. You are comfortable in their comfort zone. You can stay in that comfort zone for a long time, seeing your comfort as proof that all is good and well rather than realizing they are stagnating.  

There is an adage which is increasingly relevant today – “What got you here won’t get you there”. The circumstances and environment which provided us with the results we looked no longer hold true. We cannot get what we have always got by doing what we have always done.  In fact, we are not only unlikely to get what we have always got but we are likely to go backward.

So we need to become the unreasonable man or unreasonable woman. We have to lead the change and create the circumstances and environment for it to succeed. ‘But this is too hard, I am only me!” I hear you cry.  The unreasonable person does not act solo, he or she is a catalyst and looks to drive and facilitate the change through others. This creates momentum, resilience and early wins to help you overcome the inertia of the reasonable men and women.  

Once you have blazed a trail you will find that others will follow.  It may only be a trickle of people who follow you at first, but with time so the numbers and the momentum increases and the rate of flow carry everyone along with and before it. Think of how the settlers in the USA migrated gradually West, following the early explorers and hunters and as they did so then so did more people and the infrastructure they needed.  Small villages morphed into towns, towns got bars, sheriffs, and stores; paths became tracks and tracks became railroads; news from people passing through developed into the Pony Express, and that dirty old track became the Telegraph road (with apologies to Dire Straits!).

Blazing the trail is just that – you mark the way for others to follow you and for you to find a way back should your initial route be blocked or a dead-end. This allows you to find another way, but still a way forward.  The unreasonable man does not need to know how the world will adapt, he just needs to have the self-belief that it will and that others will follow.

So the question for you is this?  Are you the reasonable man who conforms to the world, or are you the unreasonable man who persists in trying to adapt the world to himself? Are you happy to stagnate and be forced to adapt to the world as it is changed by others around you, or will you take the initiative and try to adapt the world to you.  It’s your life, it’s your choice.

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