When Darwin described the mechanism of evolution in his Origin of Species he changed forever the way we define ourselves and the world around us. There are few, if any, ideas that are as profound and yet so simple and easy to understand. But Darwin’s theory of evolution also teaches us that even simple ideas can be misrepresented, misunderstood and misused and that wisdom and insight need to be constantly protected and defended against irrationality and ignorance. Further inspiration can be drawn from Darwin is in his role as a problem solver. He was not the first biologist to postulate evolution but all previous theories had flaws that could be used to undermine the concept.
Darwin was the first to articulate a theory of evolution that stood up to fearsome challenge and who could rebuff its critics with rigorously collected and meticulously documented evidence - what Eric Ries of Lean Startup fame might now describe as ‘validated learning’.
Finally, he had the courage of his convictions to vigorously defend his ideas, but also the grace to engage with doubters and dissenters in a patient and constructive way - qualities that sometimes appear to be in short supply in the current deeply polarised, low-attention-span age.
It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change