Do you have an unreasonable idea?

I’m forever intrigued about what it means to be an outlier.

Last week, I wrote about the gifts of “crazy”. (If you missed it, you can read it here.)

Expanding further, we’ve all had “dreams”. Unreasonable ideas. Gigantic desires, hopes, and wishes for the way life could be. That moment of awe for something beyond what is currently in existence.

I’m fascinated by these moments of ideas and how they shift as we become adults.

When as a child we might imagine a story of a strange creature who befriends and gives us a tour of the outer galaxies of space. But as we get older our imaginary stories are much more “realistic” becoming a story of a strange person who befriends and gives us a tour of the hidden parts of New York City.

By narrowing our imagination to what is realistic are we creating a more true possibility for something actually attainable with greater potential for fulfillment? Or are we settling for only playing inside of the playground we know about and thereby missing out on other undiscovered playgrounds?

From what I’ve seen, it’s both: to give ourselves permission to imagine wildly beyond AND to imagine using the colors on the palette in front of us.

You can imagine 1,000 steps beyond, but then it will take 1,000 steps to reach the beyond. However, if you can imagine 1,000 steps beyond and utilize a method for transportation, it means we can reach the beyond in a more accessible way.

So, yes, dream up, up and away!!! Wild imagination is vital.

But, if you want us to join you there, we will need a path. If the path is not one you can or want to build, then you must allow for the time and luck it may take us to find our own path so we can join you.


… if you are in the midst of crafting YOUR unreasonable idea, here are a few of my favorite juices of inspiration:

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

– George Bernard Shaw, playwright

Unreasonable could be sooo far out there that no one else can connect with the idea. On the other hand, an unreasonable idea could alter the path of humanity with profound connectivity.

For example, there was a time when writing letters was the way of communication, and the telephone seemed to be an unreasonable idea. Now, it seems an unreasonable idea to live without a cell phone!

“Sometimes it’s the people no one imagines anything of who do the things no one can imagine.”

– The Imitation Game (from a movie about Alan Turing, a mathematician and pioneering computer scientist)

I love this quote because it’s a wonderful reminder: you don’t need to be chosen or to be given permission in order to achieve the unimaginable.

“Because of my culture, I’m uncomfortable with trying to make loud bold statements. I can do that in the food. The food can be an ego maniac. It can be loud, it can be aggressive. It could be all these things that I’m personally not comfortable being. It allows me to have crazy ideas, or experiment, to not follow the rules.”

– Niki Nakayama (from episode 4 of Chef’s Table, Niki is one of the world’s only female kaiseki chefs)

Chef's TableI’m obsessed with the Netflix series Chef’s Table. It’s a documentary series about some of the top chefs around the world. I don’t really care much about the food part. But, it’s captivating due to their stories.

In each story, the chef has gone through struggles of finding their unique voice and in some cases they were hated for years for how threatening their ideas were. But now, they are all celebrated for their unreasonable ideas.

“The locals, they want me dead! You cannot mess with grandmother’s recipes! They didn’t understand what I was doing. With this dish, I was saying that tradition most of the time, doesn’t respect the ingredients.”

– Massimo Bottura

(from episode 1 of Chef’s Table, Massimo’s restaurant, Osteria Francescana, has been listed in the top 5 at The World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards since 2010)

“That interaction created a lot of energy, the friction, complaining, asking questions, or even leaving the restaurant and laughing, ‘Oh, Bottura, look what he’s doing.’ It was actually the fuel that he needed to keep going deeper into the Italian kitchen.”​

“Thomas Edison: In his early years, teachers told Edison he was ‘too stupid to learn anything.’ Work was no better, as he was fired from his first two jobs for not being productive enough. Even as an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. Of course, all those unsuccessful attempts finally resulted in the design that worked.”

(from 50 Famously Successful People Who Failed At First)​

“Monet: Today Monet’s work sells for millions of dollars and hangs in some of the most prestigious institutions in the world. Yet during his own time, it was mocked and rejected by the artistic elite, the Paris Salon. Monet kept at his impressionist style, which caught on and in many ways was a starting point for some major changes to art that ushered in the modern era.”

When I’m feeling exhausted by the opposing force of an obstacle, reminding myself it’s part of the process, helps me to trust this is where the real work happens. You can only reach the light if you persevere through the darkness.

Phew! Ok, that’s all for now. Go forth into the world waving your unreasonable flag!
More next week on being “undefinable”! ;-)