“Our lives are remembered by the gifts we leave our children.” – Mr. Whitmore from the Disney movie “Atlantis”
Lately i’ve been reading “The Innovators” by Walter Isaacson, pick it up if you get a chance!
If you’re not familiar with the subject of the book it’s the story of how the computer was invented (nerdyness, wohoo!). Who influenced it’s development and the historical context in which the innovations came about.
It’s really cool to hear stories of people you had no idea existed and how they’ve contributed to the world we’re living in. It’s kind of like finding out that your dad’s like this evil SOB who’s gone over to the dark side of the force and that’s why you’re stuck on this damn farm in the middle of nowhere. Eff you Darth, eff you to heck!
We’re pretty quick to salute Steve Jobs & Bill Gates as the fathers of the computer age. In some ways they are. They built strong teams around them to support their visions and made those visions reality. But we should remember that those visions were built on ones that came before. That’s why the book is such a great, great read!
So today i’d like to invite you to take a look at who inspires your dreams. Who came before and blazed the trail you’re walking on? If you can trace it back, trace it back one more step! Who came before that person? Can you, in turn, find their inspirations too?
Soon you’ll have built a kind of family tree of your influences. Whether you’re making music, art, technology, movies, video games, comics or whatever, this could come in handy. If you can learn from those who came before you’ll have an easier time going forward.
You can find comfort in this too. Sometimes it feels like we’re on walking on a lonely road (dramatic stuff!). We might be sitting here alone doing, whatever it is we choose to do, but we can look back at our family tree and see: “Hey, they’ve left a map for me! All I gotta do is to fill out the rest. When the next person comes along, i’ll leave what I found for them too!”. Maybe then we’ll realize that we’re never really alone on this journey.
I’ll define the words so that we’re clear on what we’re talking about.
1. Loneliness. A
2. Solitude. A state or situation in which you are alone usually because you want to be.
Usually I do my writing in solitude. I know that i’m finished when I start to feel lonely. I get my best ideas when i’m exchanging them with others. I know that i’m done collecting when I long for solitude. Also, we’re all out of dip, party’s over guys!
I think that we all can benefit from oscillating between these states as long as we listen to the clues our minds, bodies and souls give us.
Now that we’ve covered the shoulders on which we stand, let’s move up the anatomy a little!
What you can do now is to find out a little bit more about what made these people in your family tree tick. What did their lives look like? Read up on them! If you can find books, interviews or articles about them or referencing them you can learn a great deal about what informed their decisions to pursue the lives they lead. You just might find a kindred spirit!
Getting in the head of people we admire or people that’ve come before can open up new ways of thinking. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and imagining what they must’ve felt or thought is a great exercise. Even if the conclusions you reach don’t match your subjects you can still learn alot and think in ways that you might not have otherwise. This can unlock major creativity! You have been warned.
Does this sound like a perfect way to procrastinate? You betcha! That’s why you should only allow yourself a set amount of time to do this.
The reason I think that these things are important is that they give us the confidence to stick to our nugs!
There’s a thing that Tony Robbins says that i’ve found to be true: “Success leaves clues.”.
By studying who came before us, learning from their successes and failures, poking around their background and inside their mind we can find gems of knowledge.
Look at someone like Einstein. We look at him and go: “Damn! Boy got wicked science skills yo!”. Have a closer look. What do those skills rest on? Usually the work of others. I would like to think that Al studied his predecessors and built upon the foundations they’d left. That’s how he was able to do the great things (and sometimes not so totally great things) he did.
Same goes for Leonardo da Vinci! We attribute a lot of inventions to him. What we fail to remember is that half or more didn’t even work! He might have had the basic principles down, but either the technology and power needed weren’t there or he’d missed a vital component in order to make the dang thang work.
But was his work in vain? No. People came after him and either learned from his mistakes or repeated them, built upon it and shazam! Pop went the invention!
So that’s what i’d like for us all to do. Just keep building on the stuff that came before. Like Carl Sagan says: “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe”.