No Vacuum

There are two things I have had some people disagree with me – lightly – over: the existence of self-made people and the genius of heroes.

No one is self-made. We are all products of our time, our interactions, our environment (well-curated, for some), and the people, ideas, assets, and aspirations in our respective universe.

I am not the first to believe this. Even O. Wayne Rollins – who was described as a self-made entrepreneur and innovator several decades ago – was credited to have declared that there is no such thing.

Time conspired to make the situation the way it is. Consider if you were born a century ago, when education was different, or when strength is accessed not by intelligence but physical strength. When only the strongest man – based on physique was regarded as successful.

And that brings me to the second premise.

You know, I love the strides of heroes. I actually have some personal heroes – some of them are no longer living, some are. I admire their courage. I am grateful for their gifts – the products and ideas they help create.

However, if they had not done it, someone else would have.

Imagine if Bill and Paul had not started Microsoft. If Richard didn’t label those businesses ‘Virgin’. If Seth or Morgan didn’t share their insights frequently. Imagine if Paul (and his ‘co-conspirators’) had not started Y Combinator, or if your friend/mentor/hero did not start that company/product.

The world would have missed their exact perspective – at least not in the way we cherish it today. Maybe we still would have known them for something else.

How about those products, those services, companies, and ideas? Oh, those ones will still have existed. It may take some years – or months – before someone else gets it done.

“Nature”, as Kingsley Bangwell reminded me one beautiful morning in April 2012, “abhors a vacuum”.