I recently read about George Dantzig. He was a math student at Berkeley in 1939. He arrived late for class one day and saw two problems written on the board which he assumed was homework. So he jotted them down. He found them quite challenging and it took him a few days but he solved them. He went back to his professor and said sorry it took him so long but should he still hand his work in. The professor told him to throw it on his desk. A few weeks later his professor excitedly told George that he had actually solved two unsolved problems. They weren’t homework at all. The professor had written them down and explained to the students that no one had ever found an answer for them.
But because George was not there at the beginning of class, he didn’t know that he shouldn’t know how to solve the problems. He just kept persevering and trying until he found a solution.
How powerful is that?
Don’t listen when people tell you it isn’t possible, that it’s never been done before. Because you are here to do it. You have something special to offer the world but it will take a lot of hard work. So you can never give up.
It’s not that George was more talented than the other students, he just wasn’t burdened with the idea that what he was attempting was “impossible.” He was oblivious and just sat down and got to work.
What impossible problems can we find answers to today?