One of the great pleasures of the communications business is that our clients and our world are ever changing. Every new development—local, global, personal or professional—is an opportunity to learn and gain new perspective. For that matter, that’s the pleasure of life!
The goal of this blog is to capture the spirit of keeping our eyes wide open . . . to learn every day from discoveries big and small. The posts here will be mostly professional, some personal, and all about appreciating what can be learned from the awe-inspiring, challenging, perplexing and unique aspects the world around us.
So that we can learn from each other, I hope you’ll share any thoughts, memories, questions or insights that the blog may spark.
The people I admire most are those who observe everyday happenings with a spirit of discovery and help others see things with new perspective: an unexpected detour becomes an adventure, a time-consuming delay is somehow a blessing, a job loss opens the door to opportunity. A spirit of optimism and discovery leads to a life of rich experiences. I hope we can capture that spirit here.
A great example of what can happen when life is approached with boundless curiosity and discovery is the prolific work and life of Thomas Edison. A book I can’t stop re-reading is Innovate Like Edison: The Success System of America’s Greatest Inventor, by Michael J. Gelb and Sarah Miller Caldicott. I heard Caldicott speak in Chicago, thanks to my friend and career transitions coach Kate Mulcahy, and it was a transformative experience. Caldicott, great grandniece of Edison, spent more than a year studying his research archives to learn about how he worked, day to day, and what could be learned from the business processes he followed.
The book is filled with interesting anecdotes and stories about Edison’s personality and style, and the work and persistence it took to develop ideas that resulted in more than 1,200 patents. His discoveries pioneered six industries that today have a cumulative market value of more than $1 trillion. (Sarah Miller Caldicott)
Edison was an inspiring character. He was inspiring for his amazing intellect and tireless curiosity, and for his relentless pursuit of solutions. He inspired new ways of thinking by bringing people from diverse backgrounds together and asking them to solve problems in an early version of cross-functional teams. He was also a character who took naps on his desk with a chemistry book for a pillow, fished without bait for the chance to think quietly, and sang rambunctious songs with his team in late-night breaks from their round-the-clock pursuit of new inventions.
I found it especially fascinating that Edison constantly observed everything around him—people, nature, machinery, his inventions, other research. He took copious notes, sketched his ideas and saw connections where other people would never imagine looking. He soaked up information like a bionic sponge, and used it to solve new and completely unrelated problems.
By always seeing the world with new eyes and thinking about problems in new ways, Edison used his talents and energy to inspire the people around him and make the world a better place.
Here’s to more of us doing both.
Julie O’Rourke Well
About the photo: Calling to mind the delight of discovery, this captures a remote pathway on the way to Arthur’s seat, a vista overlooking Edinburgh, Scotland. My son Danny took the photo on a trip to perform an original play with students from Oconomowoc High School at the 2009 Fringe Festival.