General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler—three of the most powerful companies in the world when I was a kid—are nearly bankrupted. We should learn a lesson from this experience.
Challengers may have weaknesses, but they can work around them:
- If you are inexperienced, work on new topics, where nobody has experience.
- If you have few resources, work in a niche.
Some of the most interesting research results come from challengers. Einstein is the absolute example: without a research job, without a scholarship or a grant, he was able to take the world by storm. Had we parked Einstein in a nice academic job with job security and many assistants, would the world be the same? Maybe. Maybe not. Your limitations colour your work. They give you personality.
That is not to say that you should throw away all of your edges. However, too often, we exaggerate our limitations. I believe that this is partly by design. If I am in power, and you challenge my power, I will do my best to make you feel inadequate. I am too big for you! Hence, if you are an underdog, you should think like an anarchist. Question every preconceived idea. Because some of these ideas are hidden barriers.