Blog & News

I wonder if…

12 April 2017 | Blog, Blog & News

The other day I read a letter written by my partner, Brad, to everyone at Uptake. In it, he referenced the power of asking yourself the most basic of questions, one of which was: “I wonder, if…”

Normally, it would be the kind of thing I would read once and not spend a ton of time thinking about again. But for some reason, I can’t seem to let this one go.

I’m not sure why, but the more I think about it, the more I feel like there is something profoundly powerful in those three simple words: I…wonder…if…

No matter what I tack on the end of those words, I’m instantly teleported into an imaginary realm; a free space without walls or borders.

I wonder if…we’ll ever have politicians that worry more about the country then getting re-elected.

I wonder if…we’ll ever live in a world without guns and violence.

I wonder if…kids will ever have the same chance of success, no matter where they grow up.

I wonder if…we’ll send a man to Mars in my lifetime.

I wonder if…we’ll cure cancer.

Wondering is powerful, as it gives rise to disruption and innovation. It’s also the nucleus of imagination, which is the very fuel that makes the impossible possible.

Steve Jobs wondered if he could put a computer in your pocket. Jeff Bezos wondered if he could build a virtual mall on the internet that sold anything and delivered it to your doorstep. Elon Musk wondered if he could make cars for the masses that didn’t need fuel.

These impactful ideas began as nothing more than a spark of imagination. Someone was sitting around saying to themselves: “I wonder if,” and suddenly a question gave rise to an idea, an idea gave rise to a plan, and a plan gave rise to a product or a business.

Every once and a while, someone asks me how I’ve been able to start companies over the past 20 years that have gone on to become meaningful in some way.

My typical answer is that these businesses were all born out of Brad and I trying to solve real problems.

But, there’s another answer that is equally true. I’m a daydreamer – I always have been. When something doesn’t make sense to me, I often find myself lost in some imaginary world where the problem doesn’t exist or I’ve figured out the answer.

At the oddest of times (in my car, in the shower, when I’m working out), I find myself dreaming, and in those dreams, I’ve constructed an entire world where the problem has been solved by a product, service or company that I’ve conjured up. Down to the smallest detail, I construct an entire ecosystem in my mind.

And at some point, the dream is so intoxicating that I’m compelled to do everything in my power to make the dream a reality.

I have to believe this same thing happens to entrepreneurs everywhere.

One of my favorite quotes is from George Bernard Shaw, who said, “Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.”

Maybe the world would be a better place if we found ways to foster the imaginative spirit that’s inside all of us.

Maybe we need more people dreaming and asking themselves “why not?”

More people saying “I wonder if…”

“I have had the good fortune during my career to work with many business visionaries, and Eric Lefkofsky stands apart for his grasp of technology-enabled innovation and his insights into industry dynamics -- all of which are captured in Accelerated Disruption. This is essential reading for anyone looking to energize, and ultimately to transform, their business.”

John R. Walter, Retired Chairman, President and CEO, RR Donnelley & Sons Company; Retired President and Chief Operating Officer, AT&T