What have a physicist, an entrepreneur and an actor in common?

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They all try to do something new and take the risk to be seen as a fool.

Over the last few days I stumbled over three videos by a physicist, an entrepreneur and an actor, which at first have little in common, but they do. They all need to know when they are wrong in order to progress. If you are not wrong, then you are likely to be right, but that is often difficult to prove - often not at all.

  • The physicist has an idea for a new law. How does he/she know if it is wrong?
  • The entrepreneur has an idea for a new business. How does he/she know if it won't make money?
  • The actor is rehearsing a new scene. How does he/she know if the acting is not believable?

Here I have Richard Feynman, Rob Fitzpatrick and Michael Caine.

The physicist

Start with a guess for a new law. Predict the consequences and compare the prediction with the results of experiments. If the experiments disagree with your prediction, then your idea is wrong.

The entrepreneur

Ask your mum questions about the assumptions of your new business idea, without telling her anything about it. Do this in the same way with friends, without them knowing that you talk about a new business idea. This will require a great care in the way you phrase your questions. Don't fish for compliments. If the answers are different from your exceptions, then your assumptions are wrong and perhaps your business idea as well.

The actor

Rehearse your dialogue and observe how other people react to it. If they say something like "I am sorry, I see you are rehearsing, but I need to talk to you", then you are not doing it well. If on the other hand they join the conversation, so that you have to say: "I am sorry, but we are rehearsing" then you are getting there.

Willing/wanting to know when you are wrong is one the hardest things to accept, and yet the best way to progress quickly.

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