Thursday, May 17, 2012

Rage Against the Machine

A one-time frequent commenter on a blog I follow rejoined the discussion yesterday, with apologies for being away.  Several reasons were given for this hiatus, including weariness from trying to engage people in changing the way they think.

They then went on to post a long list of quotes from various sources that added up to, what?

This gave me pause, and reminded me that innovation is dangerous work, not to be undertaken lightly.

We cannot step boldly into the new without first letting go of the old.  When the constraints of the old are thus released, all manner of eccentricities are unleashed.  Ideas and opinions that long ago were discussed and discarded get resurrected, and have to be rebuffed all over again.  Not because we do not like them, but because we know they will not work.  We've been through it all before. This is tiresome, but avoidable.  We must proceed with patience.

The path to innovation begins with disappointed expectations that build to frustration, at which point, we stand at a critical juncture.  On the one hand, we can channel our frustration into quiet contemplation and reflection that leads to inquiry that yields the insights that drive invention, innovation and the evolution of knowledge, work and wealth.  This is the true story of our history, and the real engine of our prosperity.  On the other hand, we can let frustration built to anger, and anger build to rage.

Albert Einstein teaches us that insanity is doing the same thing, and expecting to get a different result.  That explains the rage thing.

Sanity, then, is trying new things, in an effort to get a different result.  This is not easy.

Thomas Edison tried 10,000 different solutions, before inventing a light bulb that worked.  When asked about all those failures, Edison replied that they were not failures.  They they were 10,000 ways in which he successfully learned how not to make a light bulb.

If you pick a new goal, but keep doing the same things, that leads to rage, which is crazy.  If you pick a new goal, and then start trying new things, that leads to innovation that is inspiring.

Sometimes, along the way, we have to re-consider some of the ways that we already know will not work.

Tedious, but unavoidable.

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