Clever + Clever + Clever = Innovation.

Often ‘brilliant’ leaps of insight are directly supported by a few clever solutions, and beneath them piles of failed attempts.   This  is why keeping track of all the failures and brainstorming the possibilities is so critical to making those final leaps of ‘genius’.

A good example is those various wood and metal puzzles, designed to test intelligence, where the ‘right’ answer is the often the out of box one, and initially it seems impossible. ..but after you’ve done just once it seems obvious. Similarly those who pass the SAT with 1600, often the score has nothing to do with raw talent but rather just better preparation.

Of course wading through failure, isn’t fun.   So key steps in making those leaps for me is a)reframing the failure, b) iterating c) interrelating dissimilar ideas.

The ease of dealing with Failure is directly proportional to the strength of your bigger visions.  Example: Imagine you are kid, playing in the street, you fall and scrape your knee, if bored, you might bawl for a bit.   If it’s in the process of chasing after the ice-cream man about to go to the next neighborhood, and you’ve got a dollar in your pocket and the hunger, it bare registers.      The intensity of the goals you set for yourself follows a formula: Intensity = how many times it will benefit me near, and far, how much time will it save me vrs how much energy I’m spending and the opportunity costs.   As touted in the Secret, “you get what you ask for”  All those variables can be independently adjusted by focusing on which ones you want and not the ones you don’t…remember that thought is like a firehose spraying gasoline onto the fire, there is no way to quash the fire by pointing the hose at it.

Iterating is the moments where, innovation collapses taking the complex into the moment of elegance. It’s forced inefficiency that paradoxically leads to better things. I’m sure that many of you have experienced composing a long email to a friend over a sensitive matter only to have the response lost when the browser or machine crashes. Forced to recreate the response the second time you find how to say things with half the sentences and usually find some way to convey something that didn’t occur to you the first pass.

Interrelating and Percolating are the ideas that innovation can’t be forced. It like a good cup of tea or coffee take time to brew. Or that trick picture you can’t see clearly when looking directly at. By forcing yourself to look at something else your interested in, it gives your brain perspective that when looking back, and a new collection of seeds to try in the soil.

Allowing for percolation is particularly hard for me when I’m obsessed on some difficult problem, typically taking hours…but often just taking a walk around the block, focusing on the colors and breathing I come back and find *poof*a solution presents itself.

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