As a nation, America values the confident type. Successful people are seen as infallible. The ideal business man or woman, or politician, gets things right the first time. Trial and error is seen as unnecessary and inconvenient.
Billionaire and successful world trader George Soros shares a different perspective. In an article written for The Atlantic several years ago, Soros described a concept called an “open society” in depth. Soros, whose Hungarian roots introduced him at an early age to the atrocities of the Nazi regime and the consequences of communism, values freedom of choice. He says that freedom is paramount. He describes an open society as one in which no controlling force has the final word on what is true and what is false. Read more about George at The New York Times.
Soros teaches that an open society is one in which mistakes are openly discussed and learned from. Instead of stigmatizing mistakes, they can be seen as mighty teachers. In a society in which trial and error were regular modes of learning, progress would be much faster. Soros explained that within a truly open society, trial and error would became a valued process: “The open society not only allows this process but actually encourages it, by insisting on freedom of expression and protecting dissent”. Instead of judging or shunning people with new and unconventional ideas, an open society would listen and learn. Leaders would own up to faults, and errors would not be seen as unnecessary transgressions from a productive path, but instead part of the path itself. He writes that the ideal society must be open to seeing its own faults because that way it can improve. If we cannot see our faults, and as a society aim at being right all the time, then improvements can not be made. Mistakes are the foundations of progress.
George Soros is a unique thinker in our modern age. His theories have helped him succeed in the financial world. His career shows that he thinks for himself and is not afraid to speak his mind. In some cases, this means being laughed at (as was the case after the Berlin wall fell, when Soros proposed that world leaders install a new Marshall Plan). He never lets the opinions of others deter him from his values.
He works tirelessly to devote his wealth to programs that matter to him. He has given millions in past years to political movements which he supports (such as his donations to thwart the conservative majority in 2004, or funding to the Clinton campaign in 2016). He started a fund called The Open Society fund, which is aimed at creating open societies around the globe. His political activism is not limited to one country or people. He has worked towards progressive change in South Africa, Europe, and America. Learn more about his profile at Forbes.com.