There is a wonderful fable about the dove. Originally doves, so the tale goes, had no wings. One poor dove was being constantly harassed by a lion. Every day the lion would run after the dove, and the dove would just barely escape.
One day the dove prayed to God: “God, I’m a little dove. I can’t outrun this lion every day. One of these days he’s going to catch me. I need help. Please, God, help me.”
Sure enough, God answered this dove’s prayers. The dove woke up the next morning and found she had wings. “Wow! Check these things out! Terrific!” With these wings she would get away from the lion; now she was feeling really confident and safe. As soon as she saw the lion, she called out to him, “Hey, here I am! Ha, ha, I’m over here.” She stood there jauntily, figuring that she would wait until the lion got very close so she could show him what she could now do with wings. The lion charged after the dove, and when he was inches from her, the dove started running away.
But something strange happened. The dove tripped over her new wings. Instead of helping her run faster, the wings got in her way. The lion was on top of her now, and before she could pick herself up … well, it’s a sad story.
When the dove got to bird heaven, she complained to God, “I’m a little dove. The lion was harassing me. I prayed to you to help me, and you gave me wings. But instead of the wings helping me to run faster, they interfered with my speed.”
God responded: “You foolish dove. I didn’t give you those wings to run with. I gave you those wings to fly with.”
The dove was too fixated in her perspective to see that the wings could have opened her up to a completely new experience. She was just expecting to run faster.
We need to be willing to see things in a whole new way. That’s what geniuses are all about. A genius is not stuck in somebody else’s mental clichés, the conventional notions of the world. The genius says, “I want to see it like I’ve never seen it before.” He questions the way everybody else understands it. Who says the world is flat? Who says that time is absolute?
Many great scientific discoveries happened this way. A scientist would set about to prove his theory. He would conduct experiments that he expects will prove him right. But often the results indicate something totally unexpected. At that point, many scientists throw away the experiment rather than their belief systems. But the truly great ones, the geniuses among them, reformulate their concepts of reality according to the data. That’s how all the great paradigm shifts in scientific history come about.
Welcome the new and unexpected. Celebrate innovations that do not fit into your old, cherished concepts.