Friday, January 13, 2012

Something Old, Something New...

“Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue and a Silver Sixpence in Her Shoe” is a good luck saying which dates back to the Victorian era. It refers to what brides should include as a part of their wedding outfit. This blog is not about brides, but it is about something old, something new. Please keep reading...

Have you ever had an idea for an invention—something new; something that could change the world? I am amazed at the many marvelous life-changing inventions we use today that change our lives for the better—from the paper clip (Johan Vaaler, Norway, 1899) to the Internet (Advanced Research Projects Agency at the U.S. Dept. of Defense, 1969). (see a list of 300+ greatest inventions of all time).

In 1982, I had an idea for a fantastic invention: the “Electronic Leash”. It was a way to let Fido out of the house to do his business—solo—on those cold early mornings without worrying about him running off. (note: Fido was the name of Abraham Lincoln’s dog.)

Little did I know, Richard Peck had already thought of the idea in 1973. By 1987, Invisible Fence had purchased Peck’s company and was boosting sales over $4.5 million as the result of selling 17,000 systems (see story).

A few years later, while living in Virginia in a condo located next to a very annoying barking dog, I remembered Peck’s idea—particularly the collar. My next new idea was to invent a collar that would buzz (not shock) a dog when he barked. The sound of the dog’s bark would activate the buzzing device in the collar. (see Ivan Pavlov and his experiments on conditioning).

As you might have heard, someone beat me to it—again—with the invention of the “Bark Collar”. (note: The video below was made by a dog).

I am intrigued by stories of great inventions as featured by Modern Marvels, How Stuff Works, and Discovery Channel. But creating something that can change the world is often a simple idea that is overlooked: wheel, wheelbarrow, Post-it Notes, safety pin, drinking straw, toothbrush, button, candle, playing cards, and many more (see list).
When I think of inventions and creativity, I can’t help but think of Walt Disney. He set the bar for thinking outside of the box and someone who was willing to take risks—something the aspiring inventors in the video below seem to have mastered. These bright minds seem to be working on the next great ride at one of Disney’s parks. They call it: “The Human Slingshot”.

As I contemplate the New Year and my next great idea for a new invention, and how it might make the world a better place, I reflect inward. Perhaps the greatest contribution that I can make is to re-invent myself. I’m not talking about a resolution; I’m talking about something much deeper. Taking something old, (me) and turning it into something new (improved me).

It is astounding how ignorant we often are about ourselves. We don’t even recognize the envy, laziness, or pride within us—even after we see it. The belief that we think we understand ourselves is always the last bit of pride to go.

If only for the next seven days, join me and look for one opportunity to say “no” to your pride and put others first: Listen to them instead of demanding to be heard; perform an act of kindness that cost you something (time or money); be quick to say, “I’m sorry, please forgive me.” (especially if you think you are right).

Note: To become a better listener you need to be...

1. QUIET - When you are talking, you're not listening.
2. CALM - When you are emotionally upset, you're defensive.
3. CLEAN - Truth is hidden when evil is prevalent. Dump the garbage: jealousy, resentment, vengeance, etc.
4. HUMBLE - Pride is a slow-growing seed of destruction.

The greatest opportunity we have to make the world a better place is by reinventing ourselves—turning Something old, into Something new—if only for this week.

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