Episode 38 – The Power of Innovation

Welcome to the Thirty-Eighth episode of my podcast, The Power of Three. I want to help show you how harnessing the Power of Three can lead to a more fulfilling life, a life that celebrates our differences and our similarities, and accepts that we are part of the great web of life.

In this episode, I will discuss the Power of Innovation.

I have been thinking a lot about the direction of this podcast and communication in general. What am I trying to accomplish and which direction do I want to take? The fundamentals of any communication program, or idea, is to present a message that resonates with people. Its primary purpose must be to help people with some part of their lives, or help them to improve their lives. Other programs might educate, illuminate or entertain.

What, then, is my purpose? If I am just giving my opinion, why should anyone care? How will it improve your lives? Ultimately, if this podcast does not provide something useful, it will not succeed. Talking into the empty ether is not particularly useful. Some of you may know that I have very strong opinions on social and political issues because I believe that resolving those issues will improve the lives of a great many people. Yet, without workable solutions, that is unlikely to happen.

Perhaps, then, I have set my sights too high. Changing society is a Herculaen task best accomplished by the will of a great many people. People with moral standing probably best accomplish inspiring people to make those changes, people like Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. There is little chance of ordinary people attaining those heights. Yet, there are other ways to create change that will help people in truly productive ways.

As an example, let’s talk about the environment. I think that most educated people are concerned about our continued environmental destruction and what impact it will have on future generations. No one wants their children, the next generation, to live in a barren, drought-plagued world, with crop failures, extreme climate events, or incessant war. We want a verdant peaceful world in which the next generation can thrive. So how do we accomplish that?

Clearly, businesses that have a vested interest in the status quo are unlikely to change what they are doing. The carbon-based industries like oil, gas and coal are unlikely to embrace any strategy that includes a reduction in their production. They want to make as great a profit as they can.

So, we have three main strategies to use with those companies. We can show them that they will be far more profitable if they move away from their business model. Or, we can bypass them entirely by creating new businesses. Then, if that does not change their strategy, you can legislate them out of existence. The question is, which of these strategies is most likely to succeed, given that these industries have a great deal of economic power?

My belief is that if you can show them that it is in their best interests to change their strategy, you are more likely to get them on your side and work together with them. Many environmentalists have found that talking to business is far more likely to accomplish their goals, even if only partially, than taking an adversarial position. However, you still need to accomplish your goals, as long as those goals are in the best interests of the great majority.

With this in mind, I was looking around that great repository of all knowledge, the Internet for inspiration. I decided to have a look at the kinds of speakers that businesses are most likely to hire. I found it difficult to find any useful information of the sort. I came across one site, a speaker’s bureau, that listed ten of their most popularly requested topics. Looking down that list it suddenly struck me what my strategy should be.

Unfortunately, I neglected to take down the URL, but I must give credit where credit is due. This list provided me with inspiration. Isn’t it funny how a simple thing can change the way you look at life? You can spend decades on the treadmill of life and suddenly understand that all this time you have been doing things incorrectly. If not incorrectly, then at least looking at things from the wrong perspective.

One of the things I want to achieve is the goal of professional public speaker. I do not think that I have taken that idea seriously enough. The reason is simple. In order to be effective, you must have a message. To be really successful, you must have a unique message that gives people something that they can’t easily get somewhere else. This is really difficult to accomplish. There are thousands of people with messages that intersect with yours, who are better than you are, or have more experience.

That is no reason to stop. Everyone takes time to become effective. So, what did I discover on that list of topics that changed the way I look at my goals? I had not properly answered the question that every aspiring speaker must ask, “what is my area of expertise? Do I have credibility?”

Looking at my expertise, I found 30 years in IT, a love for science, a love of reading and the English language, and a passion for the rights of all life. On that Internet list, I found the topics: Inspiring innovation; How IT will change your industry; and Change or Personal motivation strategies. That gave me a feel for a strategy and a path forward.

This is why small things can sometimes result in big changes in the way you approach anything. Sometimes it is serendipity, as with the discoverer of X-rays, Wilhelm Röntgen. He was studying Crookes tubes that produced cathode rays, which are energetic beams of electrons. He had wrapped the tubes in black cardboard to avoid visible light interfering with the experiment. About three feet away, he had placed a fluorescent screen. He noticed a faint glow coming from the screen. This made him realize that invisible rays were emanating from the tube. This allowed him to discover that these rays could pass through objects.

This made me realize that I can combine the skills that I have and present novel ways for people to innovate and to accept innovation. I can combine skills of persuasion and motivation to help people and organizations solve problems. Finally, I have something concrete to work with. The process that I went through to arrive at this discovery can just as easily to be used to solve other problems.

I grew up in a creative family. My grandfather was an inventor. By his own account, he had more patents than Thomas Edison. I have no way to verify that, but I can say that I saw many of his inventions. He always had something on the go. He threw himself at projects, sometimes multiple projects.

My mother was a musician, an artist, a poet and a writer, a visionary in her own way.

I have my own innovative streak, which I used during my work years, as much as the confines of large corporations would allow. Perhaps I was no Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. We know this because they created Apple and Microsoft, and I don’t think I own a large multinational corporation. Unless I misplaced it somewhere. Yet, in my own small way, I am creative.

What I do not quite fathom is why. Why was I innovative, why was my mother creative, and why was and my grandfather so prolific? Why are some people innovative and others do not appear to be? Why did I create new ideas or approaches, and then stop? Is creativity something that you can nurture, or create, if you follow the right steps? I think that like so much that people do, if you create the right conditions, most people are creative. What I would like to do is to discover that process and help people find those conditions.

I know that this podcast seems to be all over the map, sometimes, but I do think that that itself is a creative process. When Thomas Edison ultimately created his light bulb, he had gone through hundreds of iterations, hundreds of mistakes and blind alleys. Ultimately, he found the answer. Perhaps that is a process through which any creative person goes, each in his own way. I used to believe that if you sat down and thought for a while, ideas would just pop into your brain. Perhaps that was the reason that at some point I stopped being creative. You have to set up and nurture the conditions. Perhaps I am wrong.

What I do know is that I am starting to see purpose in what I am trying to do. Perhaps one day I can help people achieve the goal of inspiring innovation. It should be an interesting journey, either way. However, don’t expect that this process, or this podcast will follow a standard route. If nothing else, I am inconsistent. And I think that inconsistency can be creative. Creativity is not a linear process – it can zig and zag from place to place. Creativity itself is unpredictable. I am excited about this, because it combines my core skills and offers a great deal of versatility. It also allows me to explore the future of the improbable and see what lies on the other side.

In the meantime:

I encourage you to continue to enhance your life with the Power of Three and search for the best possible life to live.

Until next time, go well my friends.

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