It has often been noted that there are no new ideas. But if there are no new ideas left, that means we have a bigger problem—all the good ideas have already been taken! And unfortunately, this is true. All the good ideas have been taken, and we are therefore left with nothing. Nothing, that is, except stupid ideas.
What are stupid ideas? While it’s hard to precisely articulate what makes stupid ideas so terrible, there are a few key tells. Most stupid ideas don’t fit into the existing order. These stupid ideas are stupid because we would have to break a lot of stuff to get them to work. Other stupid ideas seem just plain odd—the kind of odd where you would feel stupid if you were caught associating with the idea. But the thing that virtually all stupid ideas have in common is this: People that we respect call them stupid.
Knowing this, our challenge is revealed. It won’t help to fret over the fact that we weren’t born in time to exploit the now-exhausted bank of good ideas. Those of us who are called to define the future must accept our responsibility to work with the stupid ideas bequeathed us by our more fortunate forebears. The way forward is painful, but clear: We will have probably have to break some things. We will likely look odd while we are doing it. And people we respect will surely call us foolish.
But if we are willing to accept the painful path forward, we are certain to discover a deeper truth already known to those who went before us: The only good ideas that have ever been left are the stupid ones.