The first time I came to Scranton one of the first things that stood out to me is the conviction some Scranton people have about the future. They would speak with near all consuming confidence about what the world is like and what was possible or impossible. I found this pretty interesting since in NYC where I am from the mentality has always been anything is possible. So are negative ninnies right?
It is actually kind of funny when someone talks about what is impossible with an air of certainty. It is rare that any particular person has the qualifications to actually determine if something is impossible. Even if someone is qualified, they would be hard press to know precisely what is impossible. For instance, the greatest minds a hundred years ago would find nearly everything we have in our modern age impossible. If you were to bring someone back from time just hundred and fifty years ago, they would probably have a heart attack at the extent of what is now possible. We can 3D print clothing, food, bridges and entire homes. We can fabricate materials on the atomic level and completely change their molecular structure. This means we can create materials that are stronger and lighter. Cars can now drive themselves and any expert on cars thirty years ago would have found this impossibility.
There is actually research that presents the strong case that people are far too cautious. I liken this to the pretty women in the room analogy. The pretty woman in the room analogy goes as following: most guys assume that the prettiest women in the room is already taken or probably stuck up. So you know what happens? Hardly any guys speak to her. There is a good chance she is not only single but would enjoy some nice conversation. The fact that most people do not even try when it comes to risk assures that they will never reap the benefits of daring to try. This concept applies to nearly everything in life. The world is filled with opportunities. Scranton has the opportunity to do many great things, but if the people in Scranton believe that nothing can change they will make certain that these opportunities are not sought after.
New ideas are important because they challenge the consensus and prevailing norm. New ideas are what gave us all our modern technologies and conveniences. We have seen new ideas completely transform our society and culture. It stands to reason that we should definitely embrace new ideas. Civilizations have perished for their failure to adapt. No matter how great the civilization, once it begins rejecting new ideas and challenging old consensus, that civilization would head towards a decline. This is what happened to Scranton but it does not have to be the end of the story. We know what success looks like. We know what it takes to progress. The only thing left to do now is execute.