The most radical idea on earth
Updated: Sep 15, 2022
The freedom that most of us enjoy is a recent phenomenon. That’s why so few of us know how to maximise its value. To use it fully to capture our amazing potential. We have slipped into the lazy luxury of limiting ourselves by letting society and what is around us be the benchmark of all that we can be. But it’s only the beginning of our human journey. So much more is to come from humanity and needs to come from us. For most of the last 10,000 years almost all of mankind spent its time foraging or working on fields. They were not able to contribute to each other in any meaningful way barring eating and fighting each other.
Then came modern industrial capitalism.
It thought profits for their own sake were so important that children should be kept generationally illiterate to work in factories. It designed a school system to create robots that mostly remains unchanged until today. Yet those haunted factories are a far cry from the modern world where anyone can create something new and individualistic to penetrate the markets of the world. You don’t need to do a deal with a mammoth like Walmart or Tesco to sell your goods. You can just sign up through Amazon and reach millions of customers. Very few of us can be bothered to try to take advantage of these opportunities. We have the spark of energy that would make us move that way, but we don’t know how to turn on the light.
It’s because our education is behind.
That’s not the fault of hardworking teachers. It’s the fault of an unchanged agenda. It does not teach us to fail and find the answer in the failure. It’s obsessed with right and wrong answers. Yet the most rewarding things in life are not black or white. They are to be found in myriad shades of grey. This is because human capacity and potential are unlimited. They are only just beginning to be realised. Our educational systems, designed to create compliant factory workers, believe in only one way to teach, in a few things to learn – even if they don’t interest you or you won’t ever use them. They force material on kids on someone else’s agenda trampling over individual traits and personalities. The first sixteen to eighteen years of your life have been spent forcing you, a commoditised learning square peg, into a round hole. But the worst part is what will happen next to some of us.
In many ways the education system’s flawed reliance on mindless compliance is the opposite of the freedom people are confronted with when they leave school. Freedom is so unnerving, and we have been so ill-prepared to maximise the opportunities it brings, that we don’t use it. We slink back into looking for the safety net. We look for the sides of the bridge because someone forgot to teach us how to walk a tightrope. We were young enough to learn for God’s sake. We were kids, we wouldn’t have been scared. If we were we could have overcome it with help. Now we only do the only things the system has taught them to do: to confirm.
But it’s worse the system has told us something dangerous, negative, unsound, unfulfilling, and limiting: not to confirm is to fail. The bulk of us, instead of finding our own limits and potential, instead of treading the path of failure towards self-mastery, look to others to see what kind of life is worth living. This is instead of looking deep into ourselves and trying to work out what our true limits are. So here we are looking at each other waiting for someone to raise our bar. Let it be you. God let it be you.
Would you be surprised to learn that the man in the picture above flunked school?
We are sold a pittance of our potential: a mortgage, a car, a walk in the park with a dog. This is while our fellow humans starve only a few thousand miles away. We idle in shopping centres or on Instagram while others like Musk dream of travelling the stars and work to live the dream. What would really shock our education system is if we finally realised that we all have Musk’s potential inside us. That only if we were given the tools to unlock it. It would be radically changed, but the onus is now on us – don’t blame the past. We can build and find the tools to realise our true potential, we can tolerably suffer to expand our limits, we can build ourselves to solve the world’s problems faster. Yes there is great news: the tools are out there. You are great, so just find them and unlock your greatness.
Embrace unlimited learning because you have unlimited capacity. Stick 20 books about business on your Kindle and read them one after the other and again and again. This really wasn’t possible 20 years ago. For one there were no Kindles. Embrace the opportunities for self-improvement technology has brought. Embrace self-actualisation. Learn the things school forgot to teach, confront your assumptions about what is good and bad, and contribute to the world around you. Start a business, start a charity. Work out what charities and businesses are good and bad and find those worth following. Act, move, get off your desk and jump up and down after you finish reading this. Get the blood going.
What is the most radical idea on earth? It’s the idea of self-actualisation. That every human works to find and push her or his potential every to maximise their talents. This is because, whether we like it or not, we are all on this planet together and independence without interdependence is weak. Dig deep, find out what your real passions and desires are.
As a law teacher, I used to say to frustrated law students: ‘perhaps what you are good at hasn’t been invented yet, don’t write yourself off’. What I missed out, which is what I know realise, is the next bit: ‘You should invent what you are good at and do it’. Many of them were tired with late nights in the library forcing themselves through materials that they only had a marginal or fleeting interest in. They said they were there because their parents had told them to, or it would make their families happy if they got a job. Yes, that’s something. But it’s a trade-off of looking at the world, saying that I think I can do better, we can all do better, and fighting like mad to bring about that change.
Because that’s what the world really needs. It needs all of us to make a change to speed up the rate in which we can improve it. As our capacities are limitless so are the possibilities of improving it. Otherwise, we stay at the status-quo. Threats of war, bad governments, rising of costs but no rising of income. Worst still we marginalise ourselves by being content, instead of challenging and stretching ourselves to improve to our limits. That is the essence of being human. So much so that a few of us who notice this too late live to regret not actioning it further. This is because a life of unfulfilled potential but happy is a life scarcely half-lived. Start now.
In business what is innovation but a biproduct of a self-actualised person. Those of us who work for others should consider the discomfort of setting-up our own businesses. We should consider embracing the possibility of failure if only for the resulting self-improvement the journey brings. In the end we cannot take everything to the grave with us, so we might as well push ourselves to live. There are few better places to serve than having and guiding your own business to help the world. Build something new, sell it, take a coin or two home and smile. Welcome the process of innovation into your life. Ascend on your journey of self-discovery of your infinite self.
Dr Abhijit Pandya
Founder and CEO
Pandya Arbitration Global
Written for Rupert James John McParland, born this week. The above are only a few thoughts from discussions with my dear and great friend Andrew Glasby.