Monday, August 20, 2012

Intolerance

In a politically correct world, tolerance is valued. And much of the time, it is a valuable skill for entrepreneurs. If you are tolerant, you get exposed to more people and ideas, and you have a more diverse group of people to discuss them with.

But there is also room for intolerance. At your core, I hope you are intolerant. Not of other people, races, or religions. But of something that sucks. In fact, I'd say you are unlikely to be successful if you aren't intolerant at the core.

Some stories I heard one day not so long ago.

"I had a professor that died from AIDS at [Ivy League School]. How could that happen? I didn't look at the world the same way after that day."

"How can it be that whether or not a child gets an education depends on where they were born, and whether they are a boy or a girl? I can't live in a world where the answer to a person would be 'you are uneducated because you were born in the wrong place at the wrong time'."

"There are thousands of refuges each year, and the US doesn't even fill it's quota each year. How can we live with ourselves if we don't do this work."

Every one of these speakers has started a leading social venture, making real impact. The setting was private, so I won't share names. But for every one, finding something intolerable prompted long term action. What is it that you find intolerable and unacceptable about the world as it is? What won't you tolerate?

Intolerance is the cold fusion of the imagination... a source of perpetual entrepreneurial energy. There are no laws of thermodynamics for your imagination. The only limits are those you put on it. And intolerance pushes you through the limits that have kept society from solving a problem.

The irony? It is only from intolerance that the world will become more tolerable.

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