In the 19th Century, anthropologists believed that Polynesia was settled by people who migrated there from Southeast Asia. This became the conventional view until a young Thor Hyerdahl challenged the experts. His contention, based on evidence gathered while living with the natives, was that Polynesia was settled by people from the east, specifically South America. In 1947, despite much criticism, he built the raft KonTiki and sailed 4300 miles across the vast Pacific Ocean from Peru to Polynesia, proving beyond a doubt that it was possible. In 1970, he dispelled another long held view that Columbus discovered America. He believed that the ancients had made the voyage centuries before Columbus and proved it by building and sailing Ra II across the Atlantic Ocean from Morocco to Barbados, a journey of 3270 miles.
Before Columbus, conventional thought held that the world was flat. Galileo questioned the belief that the earth was the center of the universe. He was declared a heretic by the Church and forced to recant. Throughout history those who challenged convention were often criticized.
Discoveries are made by those who are curious, have open minds and the courage to challenge convention. Have you had people in your organization present you with ideas that you thought were just plain crazy? Do people on your team hold steadfast to beliefs and procedures shutting down anything that’s outside the norm? Have you ever believed something to be true despite others challenging you to think differently? You saw it so clearly in your own mind. You believed it with all your being and were willing to bet on it. Then you were proven wrong.
Here’s a simple test. Without looking, visualize the profile of Abraham Lincoln on the US penny. Can you see it in your mind? Which direction is Lincoln facing? Left or Right? Now look at a penny. Did you choose Left?