“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
George Bernard Shaw

In a place like Mumbai, there will be at least a hundred professional coders who can write algorithms that can spot money-making opportunities in the stock market. Now imagine this: You come up with a piece of software that can make even 3% more money than the typical cash-futures arbitrage algorithm used by other fund houses. What happens? You become the hottest property in town. Every fund house will bend over backwards to hire you.

The same would be true if you were an interior designer, a cricketer, a journalist or a civil engineer. In a highly competitive, free-market economy, even if your ideas are only marginally better than those of your peers, you’re very much in demand. What we’re talking about, as you might have guessed from the headline, is the value of original thinking.

There’s no disputing that originality is a valuable commodity. But just what does thinking originally entail?

There’s no standard definition as such, but when we say original thinking, what we’re referring to is actually a spectrum or a range. At the peak, you have the radical thinkers, those who come up with truly unique ideas—revolutionary, even. But you also have people who reimagine existing concepts or apply them to new fields or problems. And then you have incremental innovation, where you take something old and improve it or further build upon it. Like in our hypothetical scenario.

Another, more personal example is how Saurabh thought of the “coffee can portfolio” in 2014. It was inspired by a 1984 article written by the famed investment manager Robert Kirby (of the Capital Guardian Trust). What set Saurabh’s plan apart was that at the time he put it together the idea of holding a high-quality portfolio of stocks for a long period of time ran counter to the consensus idea of always chasing the next big thing. 

And yet, the coffee can portfolio worked and delivered benchmark-beating performance

The key, as we mentioned in the very first piece in this series, is “thinking differently”—as opposed to blindly following the established or conventional wisdom. It’s a core concept of our Simplicity Paradigm. Because it helps keep our minds refreshed, and lets us develop original ways of solving problems and lead better lives. Without further ado, let’s dive right in.

What is your deep, driving desire?

The Upanishads, a set of ancient Sanskrit texts, say, “You are what your deep, driving desire is. As your desire is, so is your will.