Reading time: 38 seconds
I started reading a book plucked from the stack of books that “I’ll get to one day.” It is modestly entitled, A Theory For Everything, by Jeremy Bernstein. Clearly, with at title like that, Bernstein is not shy about setting high expectations.
The first chapter of the book ends with this paragraph:
“In a sense, they [theoretical physicists] never really grow up. Newton was 24 when he contemplated the falling apple and Einstein 28 when he contemplated the falling elevator [the ah-ha! for his theory of relativity]. Both men still had a childlike capacity for wonder. A child sees deep and fascinating mysteries in things we adults find commonplace. That is one of the reasons children are so appealing . . . “
It is said that breakthroughs in mathematics and science are done by people in their 20’s and, if you are a mathematician or scientist in your 30’s, it may be too late for you to shake your world. That’s because you’ve already started down the path of mass categorizing, inserting your notions of reality into comfortable and familiar slots and drawers and eliminating all the other possibilities through your anchor in frozen assumptions. That’s why most of us fail miserably at “thinking outside the box.”
Your job as the leader, though, is to get beyond cranial sclerosis (“hardening of the brain” – I just made that up – to my knowledge it’s not a real disease). The alternative is to be a dinosaur waiting for the next asteroid impact.
That’s plenty of mixed metaphors for one blog posting. Just get the main point: Whatever your age, it’s your job to think differently and to draw out the crazy new possibilities from your people, one of which just may be the breakthrough you need. And you don’t have to be a 20-something to do that. You just have to stop assuming you have the final categorization of how everything works. You have to have a childlike capacity for wonder, like my grandson in the picture.
What are you doing about that right now?
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