“Nothing is as hard to do gracefully as getting down off your high horse.” ~ CourtneyWilding ~
Often we do it when we aren’t thinking about it. We create opinions about our systems and processes and convince ourselves that it is the only way to do something. We have climbed onto our “high horse” and have a really hard time coming down.
These self-limiting states of belief can be bad if we let them take over, however. “Whole generations of people can believe something is impossible until one person breaks through and proves them wrong.” (Chris Voss) Throughout our history, there have been some amazing predictions about the future that at the time did not seem so amazing. Someone would state what they believed to be true and others would agree. Now, only with time passing do we understand how limiting their belief systems were! [You don’t think the world is flat do you?]
Today I share some of my favorite “expert” statements that have been proved to be incorrect. As you read through them, consider which of your belief statements might be wrong and what you could accomplish if you got off of your “high-horse.”
“That virus is a pussycat.”
Dr. Peter Duesberg, molecular-biology professor at U.C. Berkeley, on HIV, 1988.
“If I had thought about it, I wouldn’t have done the experiment. The literature was full of examples that said ‘you can’t do this’.”
Spencer Silver on the work that led to the unique adhesives for 3-M “Post-It” Notepads.
“With over fifteen types of foreign cars already on sale here, the Japanese auto industry isn’t likely to carve out a big share of the market for itself.”
Business Week, August 2, 1968.
“Everyone acquainted with the subject will recognize it as a conspicuous failure.”
Henry Morton, president of the Stevens Institute of Technology, on Edison’s light bulb, 1880.
“Reagan doesn’t have that presidential look.” -– United Artists Executive, rejecting Reagan as lead in 1964 film The Best Man.
“It is apparent to me that the possibilities of the aeroplane, which two or three years ago were thought to hold the solution to the [flying machine] problem, have been exhausted, and that we must turn elsewhere.”
Thomas Edison, American inventor, 1895.
“Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value.”
Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre, 1904.
“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.”
Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC), maker of big business mainframe computers, arguing against the PC in 1977.
“But what… is it good for?”
IBM executive Robert Lloyd, speaking in 1968 microprocessor, the heart of today’s computers.
“There is practically no chance communications space satellites will be used to provide better telephone, telegraph, television, or radio service inside the United States.”
T. Craven, FCC Commissioner, in 1961 (the first commercial communications satellite went into service in 1965).
“To place a man in a multi-stage rocket and project him into the controlling gravitational field of the moon where the passengers can make scientific observations, perhaps land alive, and then return to earth – all that constitutes a wild dream worthy of Jules Verne. I am bold enough to say that such a man-made voyage will never occur regardless of all future advances.”
Lee DeForest, American radio pioneer and inventor of the vacuum tube, in 1926
“This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.”
A memo at Western Union, 1878 (or 1876).
“While theoretically and technically television may be feasible, commercially and financially it is an impossibility, a development of which we need waste little time dreaming.”
Lee DeForest, American radio pioneer and inventor of the vacuum tube, 1926.
“The world potential market for copying machines is 5000 at most.”
IBM, to the eventual founders of Xerox, saying the photocopier had no market large enough to justify production, 1959.
“If anything remains more or less unchanged, it will be the role of women.”
David Riesman, conservative American social scientist, 1967.
“It will be years – not in my time – before a woman will become Prime Minister.”
Margaret Thatcher, future Prime Minister, October 26th, 1969.
I love these statements because they remind me to look closely at the things I say to myself and others. I’m reminded to think outside of the box. Heck! Can you imagine the position IBM would be in if they had gone with even one of the 2 items above they rejected—microprocessors and copy machines?
I realized that great innovators are at risk too! Note that Edison’s invention of the light bulb was questioned, but that in 1895 he questioned the airplane.
The ladders that we climb to get on top of our “high horses” can sometimes be stable and helpful (like that of the 3M inventor) and sometimes be a crutch that keep us from something greater. What do yours say to you?
Comment and Share!
Which of these most spoke to you? Do you have one I did not mention? What observations did you make? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
May you trash your limiting beliefs today!
Top 87 Bad Predictions about the Future – Published on 3/28/2006 Click here
15 Failed Predictions about the Future – Published on 4/10/2009 – by Gracie Murano Click here
15 Most Failed Predictions – Don’t Limit Your Beliefs – Published 01/06/2010 – by Chris Voss Click here