Over a century ago, the US government was interested in powered flight. Before powered flight existed, they found the most popular and renown scientist in the field, Samuel Pierpont Langley, and gave him a grant of $50,000. Langley was a Smithsonian scientist, so the Smithsonian added $20,000. On December 8, 1903, his second attempt failed and he gave up on powered flight. Nearly everyone thought that it was impossible. Nine days later, on December 19, 1903, two bicycle repairmen with high school education achieved powered human flight for the first time in history. They were the Wright brothers.

The inventions and the great ideas of the future will be more and more those of the people than of the scientific experts.” Eli Whitney, inventor of the Cotton Gin.

The Wright brothers had educated themselves. They read works from other aviation pioneers. They built gliders to test principals. They designed and built their own wind tunnel to test wing shapes and airfoil designs. They learned how to implement three axis control. They invented their own engine. So while they were bicycle repairmen and self-educated, their success was through hard work and not luck. Anyone can innovate. It doesn’t require fancy degrees or a lot of money, it just requires dedicated learning, trial and error and a rock-solid will.

There’s a way to do it better – find it.” Thomas Edison.

Products exist all around us. They solve a variety of problems, sometimes very well and sometimes poorly. They are a legacy of prior problem solvers. Each product began as a problem. Someone faces a problem when doing something, so they invent a solution for it. Perhaps they see something that can be improved, so they focus on that and make a better invention. Creating a new solution or improving an existing one is known as innovation. Innovation can be a product or it can be a method. Innovation creates better products and methods and improves our society.

The mind is sharper and keener in seclusion and uninterrupted solitude. Originality thrives in seclusion free of outside influences beating upon us to cripple the creative mind. Be alone, that is the secret of invention; be alone, that is when ideas are born.” Nikola Tesla.

In 1665, Cambridge University shut down due to the bubonic plague. Sir Isaac Newton, who was studying at the time, returned home and entered isolation to protect himself from the plague. The isolation lasted for one year. In that year he invented calculus, discovered the laws of motion, discovered universal gravitation and conducted experiments in optics. His experiments in optics laid the foundation for understanding the nature of light. All of this was done in one year of isolation.

One of the easiest methods to improve your productivity is to isolate yourself. This can be done to different levels. For example, while you work you can physically isolate yourself and turn off all communication devices. This means no phones, email or anything like that.

Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.” Alexander Graham Bell.

Focus intensely on only one thing. If a thought distracts you, write it down then set it aside. You can think about it later. Learn meditation and use it to help focus. Learn how to induce flow states. Break a complex task into a series of simple tasks, so you can focus on a single small task at a time. Every one of these techniques work remarkably well.

We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein.

Inhibitory control is located in the prefrontal cortex, or the section of the brain closest to your forehead. Inhibitory control originates in the prefrontal cortex and lets us break out of existing habits, so we can think in different ways. Exercise this daily. Cook food in different ways, eat in different ways, stir your coffee in a different way. Every time you exercise this, it grows stronger. Inhibitory control is essential for innovation. Some people are lucky enough to have this in spades while the rest have to learn it. Inhibitory control helps you break out of habits of thought and paradigms. Utilize this as a tool. This will let you examine problems from different perspectives, often revealing simple and elegant solutions.

It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” – Albert Einstein

In 1915, Einstein published his general theory of Relativity. Today it is taken for granted, but when it was published it stirred up a lot of controversy. The hypothesis could only be proven during a total solar eclipse. The next eclipse was obscured by heavy cloud, so they had to wait before they could verify it. In this time, a large portion of scientists were very critical of it. This movement was spearheaded by Nicolas Tesla. (It subsequently lost most of its momentum when Tesla declared, in a press conference, that he was romantically involved with a pigeon and had plans to marry her.) Einstein held his ground and never gave up.

While inventing and innovating, you will face adversity. You will fail time and time again. To succeed you keep at it and try different things. You understand one setback, solve it then move to the next. The path of innovation is one of failure, with success mostly appearing at the end.

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.” – Richard P. Feynman

You are your own worst enemy. Some people innovate but most don’t. Their experiences, preconceptions and feelings get in the way. Innovators have learned to transform themselves and resolve those issues. Do you procrastinate? There is a plethora of information online on how to overcome that. Do you not have the right skills? The internet brings the world’s collective knowledge to your fingertips. There is no excuse. Not enough time? Time is constant. If you don’t have enough, that means you’re using it for the wrong things or you lack organization. Lack vision and goals? There’s plenty of tools to help with that, most of which are backed by solid psychology. Have trouble entering a flow state? People have dedicated their lives to researching this. There is a library of good information on the topic.

Learn critical thinking and apply it to all aspects of your life. We all believe our ideas are the best, but in reality they aren’t. Any good scientist tries to prove their hypothesis incorrect. They only publish when they are able to prove it correct and unable to prove it’s incorrect. Use that same mindset to your ideas. Ask others about your ideas and ask for criticism.

Sometimes it is the people no one can imagine anything of who do the things no one can imagine.” Alan Turing

When you invent or innovate, people will try to stop you. They project themselves onto you and can picture themselves failing so they tell you that you will fail and they discourage you from trying. When someone says you’ll fail, what they mean is that they will fail so do not take it to heart. However, on occasion, someone will tell you you’ll fail for good reasons. Listen to them and learn from their experience. Whenever someone says you will fail, ask them why. If they can answer then they are worth listening to.

What is chiefly needed is skill rather than machinery.” George Stephenson, the Father or Railways.

Learn every day. Learning creates skill and stimulates the mind. Reading will often stimulate ideas and opens mental paths you never thought to walk. You don’t need machinery to invent or innovate. If you find you need something then you can invent it too. Great innovation is built upon skill, not unproven ideas nor wishful thinking.

Research has shown that anyone can become an expert. It takes a lot of time and the right kind of study, but it’s possible. You can learn any skill needed to innovate or invent.

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We look forward to helping you bring your ideas and solutions to life.
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