Imagine the following story. A California Highway Patrol officer spots a lone driver in his car speeding down the highway, weaving in and out of traffic. He revs his engine on his powerful police motorbike and goes in pursuit, with siren wailing and lights whirling. He comes alongside the speeding car and signals to the nervous driver to pull over. When the car stops, he goes over as the driver rolls down the window, sweating profusely inside. As the police officer bends down to talk to the driver, something in the backseat of the car catches his eye. In a few minutes, the driver of the car is cruising down the crowded highway safely as the police officer paves the way for him with his siren and whirling lights. What has happened? The police driver had anticipated a crazy driver at the wheel but when he peered into the car, he saw a pregnant woman in labor pains and in need to be at the hospital quickly!
In the world of routines, when the police officer spots a lone driver weaving in and out of traffic, his mind is conditioned to anticipate a troubled driver, perhaps a criminal. Not that it is necessarily a bad thing. Routines are important, for they help us deal with the stress of daily life. Parents and teachers for example, appreciate routines for they help structure a child’s life and provide certainty necessary for growing up. Look at it another way, if you have to relearn a routine everyday, like driving a car, it would be very stressful. When you are driving, chances are you are not conscious of how you change gears, change lanes or stop the car at a red light or accelerate. All these actions are routines and done at a subconscious level while you hold a conversation or tune to a radio station.
Yet with certain problems, routines lead us to a dead end and to false assumption as the story above shows. While routines help us a lot of times in our every day lives, it is an enemy of innovation, inventiveness and genius.
Great scientists, artists, inventors or entrepreneurs are often people who refuse to think in conventional ways or be pigeon-holed by existing rules. They have their own way of thinking and expressing their ideas. What many of these people have in common is the ability and courage to experiment, to think and act in new and different angles. Without the inner freedom and gumption, new and creative approaches would be stifled and even the greatest and best ideas and approaches would not be brought into existence. By the same token, these individuals accept failure as part of the route to success. For by not taking risks, nothing remarkable can come out of any endeavor.
“An invention is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration”, said Thomas Edison. He knew this fact full well for the famous American inventor was granted more than 1,000 patents during his lifetime. From his laboratories in New Jersey, Edison poured out a river of inventions that included the gramophone (1877), the incandescent light bulb (1879), the first electrical generating and distribution plant (1881 to 1882), the electric valve (1883) and talking motion picture (1912)