Permission to Think: 24.7%

What degree are you waiting on before you give yourself permission to think? Who’s approval do you need before you decide that your opinion matters? Because the truth is the information is out there. It’s more accessible now than ever. You can read almost any book from an iPad on the beach.

People without degrees do incredible things all the time. I’m not saying don’t go to school. But don’t wait until you get a framed piece of paper to give yourself permission to think for yourself.

John von Neumann, one of the most ridiculously-gifted savants in history, was once asked what percent of math he knew. His answer was something like 24.7%. First thing of note, is that he came up with such a specific number. And secondly, and more importantly, is how low of a number that is. So here is a guy that some people argue is one of the smartest humans ever to walk the planet, and he knew that he only knew around 25% of mathematics. If you’ve never heard of him, look him up. He’s the most interesting guy you’ve never heard of.

My biggest takeaway is that math was his forte. He took home open problems and solved them before class the next day. But he only knew 24.7%. What percent of your field do you need to know before you decide that your opinion matters? Who needs to tell you that you have what it takes to discover something new? 

Don’t wait until you graduate to start thinking for yourself. You’re completely capable of changing the world. Give yourself permission to think.

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