Salute to the Fools Who Change the World

Today is the April Fool’s day, and I remember the following famous quote:

“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.” – George Bernard Shaw

Many such unreasonable men have contributed to make our world better. Think about it:

  • Wouldn’t people have mocked Larry Page when he said he wanted to download the internet on his computer? This seemingly outlandish idea was the genesis of Google.
  • In 1943, IBM’s president Thomas Watson said, “I think there is a world market of maybe five computers”. Then in 1977, Ken Olsen, the founder of Digital Equipment Corporation (which was a well-respected name in the world of computing then) said, “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home”. These statements having come from the most authority figures, the sane students must have given up on computer studies. But unreasonable Bill Gates dreamed that computers would reach every household, and made it a reality. What would his batchmates have thought about him when he dropped out of college to work full time on computers?
  • The greatest icon of Indian cinema, Amitabh Bachchan, was rejected as an actor many times in his early career for his height. His deep voice which became very famous was rejected by All India Radio when he appeared for an audition test. But he turned out to be an unreasonable man who just won’t give up. After 12 films, his 13th film “Zanzeer” catapulted him to success.
  • King Shivaji who is renowned world-wide as a visionary created the Maratha empire out of nothing in the 16th century. He was a similar unreasonable man. When there was not a single ray of hope and no precedent, this son of a knight took a handful of his friends to a temple and took oath to create a good kingdom. A few years later it became a reality. Was that a sane thing to do at that time?
  • Perhaps the most well-known example is Thomas Edison who said in response to New York Times reporter’s question, “I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will  find the way that will work.”

These are just 5 random examples. There are many more sung and unsung heros.

These unreasonable people were fools in the eyes of the others around them, but they were actually wiser, as it later turned out. They perhaps saw what the others could not see, and kept working relentlessly to make their dreams real.

You can be sure that there would be many fools who are silently at work even at the present moment. Their work will go unnoticed till they turn the world upside down. No one will dare call them fools then, instead they will be branded as visionaries.

On this day, we salute all these great people!

9 thoughts on “Salute to the Fools Who Change the World

  • A.M.Schandra

    Absolutely true. Nowadays very few eccentric people take birth , since there are many factories called schools and colleges , that turn out tunnel visioned graduates.
    Very very few fools come out of such systems.

  • Nice! Someone saying not possible is a challenge for someone else. The human brain is capable making mission impossible possible. Let’s look for all problems that are perceived to be not possible and have the vision to make them possible!

  • Chandrika Sreekumar

    That personality who can challenge the whole world to be different and yet to prove successful shows the real human calibre. The real sad thing about human race is that only a very few can come up to this catagory.

    • Ashish Belagali

      Oh yeah. It’s not easy to get into that category of people. But it’s something worth aspiring for. Isn’t it?


    So true! because these people have capability to work and think against rut but, other people couldn’t think that way that is why they count them as fool.

  • Great thought! But I have a quibble. In hindsight we are able to say which ideas were useful and bankable. But at the time of their conceiving there is little to help decide which ones are worth backing. So one swings between treating all of them as trash or as exciting. But if one has the opportunity to observe and converse with these people, it is usually not difficult to spot the real fools. Poor homework, low perseverance, too much focus on marcomm when product is not convincing yet, etc. Contrast that with Edison. After getting the incandescent bulb design right, he went on to develop the electricity distribution system for NY so that the product could be put to wide use. Not all great people succeed. But definitely, the real fools do not.

    • Ashish Belagali

      Thanks Amitava. It does require certain vision to spot the diamonds in the crowd of stones. It is not easy. In the old days, the European traders used to bring gifts for Indian kings. It is said that a British trader presented a printing technology to the king of Delhi. With this novel technology, one could make as many copies as one wanted, accurately, without having to manually copy the manuscripts one at a time. However, the king, not realizing the significance, just kept it aside. The rest is history.

      Also, thanks for making the distinction between the real fools and the real geniuses who are ridiculed as fools by the fools.

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