There is something writ large here – ’tis in the stars, too brilliant to ignore, too beautiful to deny.
On the last day of 2017 we reached the Cape of Good Hope (Southern-most Africa) on the same year we reached Finistere (Western-most Europe) on the eve of my birthday.
At one point in history and for all lifetimes until then, these two “mosts” weren’t just the earth’s extremes: they were hard boundaries defining the end of the world for entire populations and truths.
The End: when the earth was flat, no human being was supposed to go beyond Finistere (literally the end of the earth) or the Cape of Good Hope.
But wait, there’s more.
2017 was also the year we made it deep into the American South, an epic roadtrip that traced the twin Civils – the War and the Rights Movement, a singular pair of historical markers a century apart, that once and twice upon a time also drew (and redrew) the hard lines where men, women and children could not enter, holding these, again, as bloody gospel truth that bound entire populations.
Today we know better than to respect these silly limits. Today we continuously push and redraw boundaries we never knew existed. Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Uber, Airbnb, the beat goes on and on. None of these icons existed as companies, products, categories or even figments of imagination for most of my lifetime, yet today these are the biggest and most valuable entities on planet earth. Today we count innovation mostly only of the disruptive sort – and in months, not years. Today the question is not if, but when in the next 12 months the next new new thing will emerge that will shape and reshape billions of lives daily. Today we live in the center of the eye of the Age of Innovation.
Yet today one thing remains at the heart of all these boundaries we break, that makes these constant human frontiers possible. Today still we are doing all of it – we are advancing the entire human race – on the strengths and daring of a few handfulls of individuals.
And this is the point that brings me to the stars writ large.
For 2017 was also the year I drew heavily and found common zeal with Steve Jobs’ iconic manifesto challenging all of us to Think Different, offering up in 60 seconds 18 iconic human beings, all from the 20th century, who changed the world because they did: think different. It is one of the world’s most precise admonitions for why and how, out of billions, only a select few lead humanity to break boundaries and move the human race forward.
Here, indeed, is to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs on the square holes, the ones who are willing to see and try and fail and succeed differently – because the ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.
And so it was in this same crazy spirit that in 2017 I heard the call, seemingly out of nowhere, to build something new, all new – for, with and all about these crazy ones. Yet as I look back, it feels like all my life has led and prepared me for it. It is so quintessentially me, yet none of it is mine. All of it, right down to the name, was given me.
And so in 2017, I was privileged to surround myself, finally, with more and more of these crazy ones. It was an exhilerating sort of accelerating critical mass. I had always yearned crazy, sought crazy, and now I could touch crazy, and they me. In Ignite, we come together in an environment where we can methodically find and be found by kindred crazies, and together methodically find ways of collaborating – of advancing, not careers or family interests, but shared mission and impact. Crazy.
There is a most telling phrase in Steve Jobs’ Think Different that I left out: “While the rest of the world may see them as crazy, we see genius”.
And so in 2018, as I look forward to breaking more boundaries and pushing more limits, I feel so much closer to the truth about Genius, Innovation and Transcendence. There is a necessary link and progression that drives the three and makes them, not just possible but eminently doable – and not just for a select few, but for all of us:
The more you push new ground and break boundaries, the more it must all come from a force deep within. And yet the deeper within it comes, the more you realize you cannot call this force your own. You think you are pointing and leading the way, but in truth you are led by something far bigger than you – so much more immense than I that it is at once not from me and yet the very essence of me. And so you follow, and you follow, and you follow, always with truth and authenticity, and that is how you come, in your own crazy way, to be a force that is You alone, that thus thinks different, that thus breaks boundaries and forges new ground, that thus advances all of us.
There is a necessary progression: from Genius, to Purpose, to shared Mission, and thus to its fulfillment in Innovation and Collaboration. This is where the great divide is that have mired too many for too long – but not the crazy ones. The world is not wanting in Genius. What we lack is honesty, authenticity, sincerity, courage, humility, faith, hope, love – what we lack is the craziness to live by these truths. Not Genius. We have all been gifted with Genius, each our own – but only the fully honest and crazy ones will discover and embrace theirs and against all comfort, conformity, and the mediocrity of the world’s lures, jealousies and distractions, pursue their Genius and Purpose and fulfill their greatest potential through Mission, Innovation and Collaboration.
With clarity we march on. There is something writ large here – ’tis in the stars, too brilliant to ignore, too beautiful to deny.
Here’s to 2018 and beyond, the crazies are a-coming!
Steve Jobs on Crazy: https://youtu.be/YBJAvi3A0H8