Suspending disbelief

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The world is round, and Father Christmas is a fat joke. Life and business is way too serious for frivolous abandonment of proven. Yet, progress comes from getting lost and finding relevance from the fiction and unproved. Everyone loves to boast about what they know, rather than the curiosity as to what they are yet to discover. Everyone loves those who know all, but those who drive change are likely those who suspend their disbelief and are ever seeking new possibilities, beyond the proven.

My guess is the likes of Albert Einstein, Elon Musk, Marie Curie and Sheryl Sandberg all know their facts but have an ability to suspend disbelief. The ability to push through the innovation dip when some facts may be shouting ‘quit, quit, quit,’ yet they progress pushing through uncertainty.

Young children are typically taught, likely unintentionally, to suspend their disbelief through a regimen of quirky bedtime stories, and talk of Father Christmas, Unicorns, Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and other things of wonder. The young and not so young who love a good a book or other stories of fiction and fantasy engage through suspending their disbelief. 

While some fiction is nothing more, there are many examples of those with minds painting a fantasy world, that become fact. Driverless cars, 3D printers, mobile phones, medical devices, reality TV, robotics and bionics were all imagined a long time prior the reality in books, movies and TV. (More >)

As we head towards the end of 2018 and 2019 prepares to start, we are faced with a time of reflection of the highs and lows, and also hopefully optimism among the uncertainty of the year ahead. There is likely hope that the hard work invested in 2018, will pay dividends for 2019 and beyond.

But, who really knows? It is important to suspend disbelief and as a wise George Michael (#RIP) once wisely said about breaking from the comfortable present and past towards a future of uncertainty yet opportunity …

“‘Cause I gotta have faith. I gotta faith. Because I gotta to have faith faith. I gotta to have faith, faith, faith.”

George Michael 

The thing is as a society, we can fear faith without facts. 

From a religious context, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics figures while the majority continue to identify with a religious faith, there is a slow decline (in the 2011 Census 78% identified with a religion, and this was 70% in 2016). Traditional religions are slowly declining largely from misconduct, but often from miscommunication as to the role of faith in people’s lives. 

Faith, spiritual or otherwise, is about living a life underpinned with strong positive values of giving to others and living a virtuous life. Of suspending disbelief beyond facts and embracing one’s imagination and working towards strong positive progress and change. Often this is about heading into the very much unknown and unpredictable future.

To work hard, with a level of blind faith, that you are making it up the mountain?—?one …. step …. at …. a …. time … then … another …. and another … and another. And, even when you have a fine rhythm and are simply SMASHING it, life has a great way of SMASHING you back to reality. Like the little red engine when you “I think I can” eventually you may get there.

While facts provide a great reality check of the world, gaps and opportunity, true insight comes from suspending disbelief and thinking beyond the proven. Facing the future with a beginner’s mind and beyond confirmation bias.

Failure is a fact of life, yet as Thomas Edison has been quoted “ I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Likely others would see far fewer failures as evidence to give up, for those with faith this is just a bit closer to success. Rather being skeptical that what is yet to be proven is not possible, it is important to reflect that the world was once viewed categorically as flat (and some still believe it is). We need those fighting against conformity.

So, in 2019 please suspend your disbelief and move forward boldly.

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

Thomas Edison

In a world in which trust in corporate and government and even beyond are at concerning low levels, it is critical we as a society do not sink into cynicism about the unproven. Perhaps the unproven and that in which we need to suspend our disbelief, from science fiction to even Santa Clause, are the very things we should be investing our trust and faith in. That the seemingly unimaginable is possible.

This post was inspired by the below episode of Real People podcast. Geoff and Teena spoke of their love of reading since a child, and critically how important suspending disbelief is in reading, the Arts and broader imagination and creativity.

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