15 Quotes From One of the Greatest Creative Geniuses of the 20th Century

Buckminster Fuller was a man who possessed the ability to look at life from many different angles. Not only that, but he also knew how to work with what he saw. A systems theorist, architect, author and inventor born in 1895 in Milton, Masachusetts, he came to be known as one of the most innovative, creative and forward-thinking minds of his generation.

One of the first “futurists”, his was an original voice championing the many benefits of technology and its use as a boon to both the planet and all the different species on it, if only we were able to bring it into alignment with nature. He designed some of the most innovative structures in history, coined the terms “Spaceship Earth” and “Synergy” and wrote over 30 books, lecturing and touring widely up until the time of his death.

As one would expect, he was not famous for his conformity. Just as Einstein did, he struggled in school as a child and was later expelled from Harvard twice — once for partying with a vaudeville group and the second time for a general “irresponsibility and a lack of interest.”

Only a few years later, however, a winch he invented while working with the Navy would so impress them that he would be promoted to Officer training soon thereafter. This hands-on approach, coupled with a serious spiritual epiphany in his early thirties would lead him to create his most famous invention, the geodesic dome. A structure that is, according to the Fuller Institute, “the lightest, strongest, most cost-effective structure ever devised”, the geodesic dome stands as a literal example of his life’s work and message: do more with less, for the benefit of all

Here, then, are 15 quotes from the man known as “Bucky” Fuller. You will most likely be surprised to find out how many of them you recognize…


  • You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.
  • When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty… but when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.
  • Never forget that you are one of a kind. Never forget that if there weren’t any need for you in all your uniqueness to be on this earth, you wouldn’t be here in the first place. And never forget, no matter how overwhelming life’s challenges and problems seem to be, that one person can make a difference in the world. In fact, it is always because of one person that all the changes that matter in the world come about. So be that one person. 
  • I’m not trying to counsel any of you to do anything really special except dare to think. And to dare to go with the truth. And to dare to really love completely.
  • Dare to be naive.
  • If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don’t bother trying to teach them. Instead, give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking.
  • If humanity does not opt for integrity we are through completely. It is absolutely touch and go. Each one of us could make the difference.
  • If success or failure of this planet and of human beings depended on how I am and what I do… HOW WOULD I BE? WHAT WOULD I DO?
  • Everything you’ve learned in school as “obvious” becomes less and less obvious as you begin to study the universe. For example, there are no solids in the universe. There’s not even a suggestion of a solid. There are no absolute continuums. There are no surfaces. There are no straight lines.
  • I am not optimistic or pessimistic. I feel that optimism and pessimism are very unbalanced. I am a very hard engineer. I am a mechanic. I am a sailor. I am an air pilot. I don’t tell people I can get you across the ocean with my ship unless I know what I’m talking about.
  • We should do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian Darwinian theory he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.
  • I am convinced all of humanity is born with more gifts than we know. Most are born geniuses and just get de-geniused rapidly.
  • I am not a thing — a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process — an integral function of the universe.
  • When I was born, humanity was 95 per cent illiterate. Since I’ve been born, the population has doubled and that total population is now 65 per cent literate. That’s a gain of 130-fold of the literacy. When humanity is primarily illiterate, it needs leaders to understand and get the information and deal with it. When we are at the point where the majority of humans them-selves are literate, able to get the information, we’re in an entirely new relationship to Universe. We are at the point where the integrity of the individual counts and not what the political leadership or the religious leadership says to do.
  • Mistakes are great. The more I make the smarter I get.
  • There is no joy equal to that of being able to work for all humanity and doing what you’re doing well.