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1. Mystery Adds Meaning
When Isaac Newton was asked to describe his most productive days as a scientist, he explained, "I was like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me." When mystery leads, curiosity follows. Whys, Why nots, and What ifs. There are few things more constant in a child's life than curiosity.
When curiosity is a driving force, a person remains interested, present, in passionate pursuit. Kids are notorious for driving their parents crazy with their incessant questions. But these questions are the reason they learn so much so quickly. They also keep life interesting.
Consider the greatest films you've seen or books you've read. It was undoubtedly the mysterious elements of them that kept your interest piqued and senses sharp in order to satisfy your curiosity. Mystery is the reason you watch an intense five-minute sequence in a film and wonder if you took a single breath. It's the reason your limbs can unknowingly fall asleep in the midst of an engaging conversation with someone you love. It's the reason we are still fascinated by other galaxies and outer space and the possibility of life on other planets. Mystery is the reason people like business tycoon Sir Richard Branson, Titanic and Avatar director James Cameron, and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos spend millions of dollars to explore the deepest depths of the world's oceans.
There is promise in mystery: the promise of virgin paths and uncharted waters. And, if we keep searching, there is the promise of discovery. Mystery makes everything more interesting, and more interesting means more meaningful. Creativity is born of mystery.
2. Ignorance Leads to Breakthroughs
"Einstein's vast knowledge of mathematics and science increased steadily throughout his life," explains author Scott Thorpe in his book How to Think Like Einstein. "But when we look at Einstein's problem-solving output something seems wrong. . . . The most profound breakthroughs came during a remarkable year during the beginning of his career. But in later years, Einstein's problem solving dropped off." Thorpe goes on to describe a fascinating and revealing trend in the life of the archetypal genius. It was during his first year out of college, while he was working at the Swiss patent office "reviewing improvements to laundry wringers" and doing physics "on the side," that he discovered E = mc2. He was no less brilliant in the subsequent years and in fact knew more about science and math and had more uninterrupted time to focus on his experiments alone and with the greatest fellow minds of the day. And yet, as Thorpe points out, "he didn't solve any more scientific problems."
"We would expect Einstein's problem solving to correlate with his intelligence and knowledge," concludes Thorpe. "Instead, his problem-solving ability declined as his knowledge increased. Innovation was highest when knowledge was lowest."10
1. Tim Seldin, "Children Are Little Scientists: Encouraging Discovery Plan," n.d., childdevelopmentinfo.com/child-development/children-little-scientists.shtml.
2. Kaomi Goetz, "How 3M Gave Everyone Days Off and Created an Innovation Dynamo," n.d., fastcodesign.com/1663137/how-3m-gave-everyone-days-off-and-created-an-innovation-dynamo.
3. Glenn Llopis, Earning Serendipity: 4 Skills for Creating and Sustaining Good Fortune in Your Work (Austin, TX: Greenleaf Book Group, 2008).
4. Goetz, "How 3M Gave Everyone Days Off and Created an Innovation Dynamo."
5. Matthew 9:14 (New International Bible, 2011).
6. Ronald W. Clark, Einstein: The Life and Times (1971; repr., New York: Avon Books, 1984), 27-28.
7. Albert Einstein, Cosmic Religion: With Other Opinions and Aphorisms (New York: Covici-Friede, 1931), 97.
8. Walter Isaacson, "20 Things You Need to Know About Einstein," Time, April 5, 2007.
9. Outward Bound, "History," 2010, outward-bound.org/about/history.html.
10. Scott Thorpe, How to Think Like Einstein: Simple Ways to Break the Rules and Discover Your Hidden Genius (Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks, 2000), 5-6.
introduction A Bigger Canvas: My Story 11
Section one THEN . . . ( who you were)
1 what was right about you 25
Section two NOW . . . ( who you are)
2 what is left of you 43
Section three HOW . . . ( who you can still be)
3 be provocative 57
4 be intuitive 85
5 be convicted 111
6 be accelerated 131
7 be spontaneous 151
8 be surrendered 169
9 be original 185
10 your picasso 203
next step 207
Posted August 3, 2013
Posted August 16, 2013
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Posted February 2, 2014
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