Foresight is not essential

James Naismith invented basketball when he was really just trying to keep a bunch of rowdy students busy indoors during a blizzard. One day, he saw a boy in the gym tossing a ball toward the basket, picking it up, and tossing it again. 

An hour later, he passed by the gym again and saw the boy still doing the same thing. “I stopped and asked him why he was practicing so long,” Naismith wrote. “The boy answered that he did not know, but that he just liked to see if he could make a basket every time he threw the ball.”

“It hadn’t occurred to Naismith that people would actually practice his game,” writes Nick Greene in How to Watch Basketball Like a Genius. Greene concludes:

“Foresight, it turns out, is not an essential quality in an inventor.”

Foresight is always just a guess. Depending on the person’s expertise, and understanding of what’s happening, it might be a really good guess—but it’s a guess nonetheless.

It’s easy to argue about what the better guess is. But there’s only one way to find out, which is to make the work and put it out there. “Code wins arguments,” the saying goes

“Sales (of concepts, of services, of goods) don’t get made because you’ve spent a sleepless night working on your telekenisis,” Seth Godin writes. “They happen because you’ve made something worth buying, because you’ve outlined something worth believing in.”

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