Friday, July 30, 2004

When politicians become "statesmen", scientists, discoverers.

Following the Democratic National Convention, it reinforced for me that while one can become a successful politician by following the polls and the focus groups, the man or woman who does this in our "first past the post" system has to minimize real conviction. The people who have made the biggest impact on the political world have not compromised on their convictions even though it may have meant for Lincoln or Churchill that for a long time failure followed failure. Whether you are Ghandi or Margaret Thatcher, the singleminded pursuit of your ideals is the way to reshape the world. It is important to differentiate betwen popularity and success. Focus groups cannot tell you how to believe. Whether in life, politics, science or business, conviction is critical. On July 28th, Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, died. Now, like most of the scientific greats, "experts" kept telling him and Watson that they were wrong. However, convinced of the truth of their convictions, they went on and were ultimatley proved right.

For the rest of us mortals also, we do ourselves a disservice by allowing ourselves to do or think that which is popular. If we do not challenge conventional wisdom, we can make no progress.

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