In praise of the infinite mind

image“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”
― Albert Einstein

Through a plus thirty year career, and traipsing even further back, all the years of education, it has really bothered me that the best people have failed. And when I say this, it is not in any way to personalise this statement. It is actually stated on behalf of a host of fellow managers and students, those especially, who found the system insurmountable and succumbed, thus never reaching their true potential which was clearly visible.

This life is designed in the present. It is designed to function and operate on the limitations of present systems, technology and ability. The world appreciates those who carry the norms of this world on their back. In the working corridors of the world, people who hold sway, are those who efficiently and unquestionably go about the work of the day. The most appreciated is the SMART worker, who will deliver expectations in time and without much question. The world functions a bit like an ant colony, efficient, unimaginative, conformist. The ordinary rules us!

The SMART worker will be further appreciated, if they can continue to do this day after day, year after year, with a total disregard for attrition. Over a career, this worker will prosper in the system and simultaneously protect and sustain it. Little tinkering will occur, but a revolution will not come from such a one. Typically, as the Bell Curve predicts, almost 96% will conform to this system – 68 normal and 14 on either side of it.

On the other hand there will be that 2 percent on the absolute right of the Bell Curve, who will be totally out of the box thinkers. They will be gifted people, who will challenge the system, see images which others simply cannot visualise and invariably will also challenge the status quo. They will be passionate and emotional and express their thoughts while taking on the system. These outliers, will generally be considered mavericks and the system will tend to be mildly contemptuous of them (I have seen plenty of very ordinary managers, laugh about such talented individuals). Typically, in our structured working systems, these mavericks will fail. Alas, there have been legions of such failed people, throughout the history of this world, who have been ground into the dust. My heart bleeds for such people. If given the opportunity, they could have done so much, but they never had the conformist switch.

Nevertheless, there are some of these gifted people, who despite the system and walls manage to wriggle free and achieve something. These are the ones who change the world. How they succeed is more in the hands of Allah (some may call it luck, or low probability numbers finally working out). Think Prophets immediately. That is an obvious given. But there are others, less blessed humans, like Newton, MichaelAngelo, Rumi and Biruni. For every age a band of gifted people lifted their prevailing society. Almost all science, art, literature, discoveries etc has been achieved by such people. Humans through the folds of history owe a huge debt to the ones who stuck their neck out, imagined, created and moved society a major notch each time. This note is a thank you note and in praise of the infinite mind.

There are not too many of these individuals in comparison to their achievement. Some infact went to their permanent resting place without any acknowledgement of achievement and greatness. Only later would such people be recognised. Van Gogh is an example. So just imagine a world where no Archimedes made his discovery. Or Newton did not expound his theory, or Shakespeare not write his plays, or Ibn Batuta not travel his miles, or Einstein not work out the theory of relativity. We could still be living in the dark ages, hunting with primitive weapons, speaking a stunted tongue and living in our little hole. Our world would have been just the few square miles around us, that we would cover during our lives, never knowing there was a world and people beyond. Think about it!

* picture is from the


About sarfarazar
I have been lucky! A long career with large scale organisations and some acclaim. Also, took time off to write, mentor and do some education and social development projects. I continue to mentor and help younger people in life. Inshallah, hope to write on various subjects in my blog.

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