It’s amazing what we can accomplish when we are unaware of our limitations. We have all heard stories of children born with congenital defects or other handicaps that limit their capabilities. Parents often continue to encourage their offspring to reach their fullest potential, despite the prognosis from medical professionals. In many cases, these children exceed their perceived limitations, simply because they just didn’t realize that those limitations even existed.
Today’s video is based on the famous anecdote of mathematician George Dantzig. He is famous for – among other things – solving two “unsolvable” math problems his college professor had written on the board at the beginning of class. Arriving late to the lecture, George noticed the two problems written on the board and copied them down in his notebook, thinking that they were a homework assignment. As he struggled through the calculations, he thought the problems seemed more difficult than usual. He brought the assignment to his professor a few days late, apologizing for the delay. Later, his astonished professor told George that he had solved an “unsolvable” math problem that had plagued mathematicians for years.
What if George had not arrived late to class that day, and was present for the professor’s explanation of the “unsolvable” problems? Would he have even tried – or just assumed that they were impossible to solve? When people are not tied down by preconceived doubts, they can accomplish extraordinary things.