November 3 – Pragmatists and Dreamers

November 3. “Some men see things as they are and say ‘why?’ I dream things that never were, and say ‘why not?’” (George Bernard Shaw)

In my life, I tend to be a person who is far more concerned with understanding why things are the way they are. My degree is in Physics, and in my college years I spent a lot of time working to understand how and why things worked in the world. From simple mechanics to complex theories of relativity, my mind was all about explaining why things work the way they do. In my career, I started with jobs that involved fixing broken or improperly working computer systems. From there I have progressed to project management. Again, the vast majority of my time is spent on understanding why things are the way they are, and on figuring out how to fix them, or make them better. I consider all of this to be my very pragmatic side.

I don’t apologize for my pragmatic side. I have built a skill set for solving a variety of problems because I have explored and understood why things work as they do. I have friends who have a similar type of skill set, but for completely different kinds of problems. Some can fix mechanical things, others can fix things in their houses, and so on.

I don’t think that Shaw meant to downplay the importance of such practical people in the world. Without people who can see and understand things as they are, and apply a skill set to keep things running or even improving, our world would begin to crumble. We need people who can keep the trains running on time, and who can dig deep into understanding why things work as they do.

What I think Shaw was doing with this quote was to help others understand that his mind, and his approach to life was different. There have been many visionary people in the history of the world. People like Henry Ford, Steve Jobs and the like, had a vision that was unlike anything anyone had dreamed before. These people were able to create new, different, and wholly exciting things because they had a vision. They, like George Bernard Shaw would “dream things that never were, and said ‘why not?’”

Today my reflection is on the balance in this world between pragmatic people like myself, and visionary dreamers. I know that I have a creative side, and it comes out in many ways. I wonder what I could dream if I could let go of my pragmatic side more often?

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