Columbus was dining with many Spanish nobles when one of them said: ‘Sir Christopher, even if your lordship had not discovered the Indies (America), there would have been, here in Spain which is a country abundant with great men knowledgeable in cosmography and literature, one who would have started a similar adventure with the same result.’ Columbus did not respond to these words but asked for a whole egg to be brought to him. He placed it on the table and said: ‘My lords, I will lay a wager with any of you that you are unable to make this egg stand on its end like I will do without any kind of help or aid.’ They all tried without success and when the egg returned to Columbus, he tapped it gently on the table breaking it slightly and, with this, the egg stood on its end. All those present were confounded and understood what he meant: that once the feat has been done, anyone knows how to do it. (Girolamo Benzoni, History of the New World, 1565.)
Why is it that some of us think imaginatively and others do not? If your life is one of eking out a living in severe poverty, ok…, understandable. But for most people in developed nations this is a somber query. Is there a relationship between doing what you’re told, playing by the rules, living up to someone’s expectations of you, and non-creative thinking? Or is it our fear of being wrong, or fear of making a mistake that causes too many of us to think inside the box, exclusively?
It’s time we started thinking innovatively about, well, everything. Government agencies working together, a North American Economic Union, multi-purpose religious centers (Jews, Muslims & Christians using the same facility), then let our communities use it as a Country Club or Counseling Center in the afternoon or during the week. Or what about local families providing one meal a week through a delivery service for those going through tough times. Maybe even military personnel providing security for Banks & Day-Care Centers! Remember Johannes Gutenberg (printing press), Eli Whitney (cotton gin), Thomas Edison (electric light bulb), Marie Currie (radioactive elements), the Wright brothers (powered flight), Clarence Birdseye (frozen foods), Alexander Fleming (penicillin), Ralph Schneider (credit card), Stephanie Kwolek (Kevlar) Martin Cooper (cell phone), Steve Jobs (Apple), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Ray Fuller (Prozac).
So take that eccentric, whimsical idea tucked away in the back of your head or hiding in the back of your desk drawer— get it out, work on it. You may be the one person to discover, even to create a solution which no one else has thought of. Each of us has more God-given gifts than we will ever use; so go gentle with that egg.
Have a nice week,