“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect.”
– Mark Twain
I love this quote.
It seems strange if you really think about it. Many people are inspired by such phrases that try to instill the spirit of individuality, while trying to do everything they can to fit in.
Over the last few weeks I’ve noticed how much I really admire the ability to go against the grain for an extended period of time. In startups, the ability to see what others don’t see is invaluable. Paul Graham says that all you have to do to avoid a failed startup is just to not die. It’s that simple.
How many startups have been rejected by partners, investors or mainstream customers for years to eventually become “overnight” successes?
Did Airbnb think that they were going with the flow?
I doubt it.
This ability to have vision, conviction and belief so strongly that one can sustain headwinds of negative feedback is undoubtably valuable.
But at what point does this “vision persistence” cross the line into just being cynical?
It’s obviously not a black-or-white issue as an infinite number of independent variables can act as an input into the equation, but it’s important to realize that cynicism for cynicism’s-sake is likely a recipe for disaster.