The forests today are exactly the way they were a million years ago. There are fewer forests but nature is the same because animals haven’t changed their ways. Generation after generation, they live the same way, doing the same things.
But human beings have evolved to forge a new path into the future. We have gone from being cave dwellers to space explorers. Human beings are the only species that constantly evolve.
If you look at input and output areas in an animal brain, they are physically right next to each other. If an animal sees food they eat it. It’s basic survival.
But human brain has evolved and expanded in size. There are many sensory processes between the input and output area. When your brain gets food input like memories, experiences, sights, sounds, taste, smells, imagination, thoughts, emotions, conversations and ideas; it is assimilated, processed and reconfigured in your brain to produce a different output, like making food art instead of just eating food.
Expansion of human brain during our evolution gave us the ability to rise above our basic survival instincts. Our brain has 120 billion neurons constantly sending and receiving messages. Complexity of our brains allows us to process information in a limitless way, this is what makes humans unique.
When the human brain expanded in size during evolution, both cortex and prefrontal cortex which is the basis of human imagination also expanded. Scientists, inventors and innovators have a vivid imagination, first they visualize then create something new.
Before Taj Mahal was built someone visualised it in their mind, and then it was concretised in the physical world. Prefrontal cortex allows us to imagine the future, to imagine a world that isn’t your world right now. It can unhook from the present time and place and travel anywhere in an instant.
Nikola Tesla-Father of Invention, possessed an extraordinary sense of visualisation and mental imagery. He said “Before I put a sketch on paper, the whole idea is worked out mentally. In my mind I construct, make improvements, and even operate the device. My electric motor, vacuum, wireless light, turbine engine and all other devices have been developed this way.”
If all our brains are biologically hard wired to experiment, innovate and invent why aren’t we all inventors? Innovation & invention is about using the stimuli around you to create new perspectives, designs and concepts. Can you take something ordinary, put it together in an interesting combination and make it extraordinary?
Your brain weighs only 3 pounds but uses 20% of body energy. Your brain takes the path of least resistance, it naturally defaults to neural pathways that represent what we have done before. Habit is comforting. But innovation occours when you get off the path of least resistance. Your brain has an abundance of genius ideas. You just have to find it in the maze of neural networks
Try something new like changing careers. Changing direction gets your creative juices flowing. If you are in the same business for 20 years your brain won’t come up with genius ideas. You will be amazed how much your life changes, when you step out of your comfort zone or work on a new idea. You learn new skills, research and expand your knowledge.
Innovation and invention can happen only if you are willing to think outside the box. You also have to be willing to fail again and again and again. If you haven’t failed, you haven’t tried anything new. You have to be ok with being wrong. Even when you are right people will think you’re wrong.
Push boundaries, push yourself to the limit to see what works. Sometimes a brilliant idea is too ahead of its time. A friend started Meals on Wheels in 1997. After struggling for years and years he gave up. Today Swiggy, Zomato, UberEats, Scootsy are all based on the same concept and are runaway successes.
Children must be trained to get off the path of least resistance, push boundaries, take chances, risk it all, and fail repeatedly. They can transform with the right stimuli. When children grow up, they don’t remember what they was taught in history class but will always remember a certain skill set or a way of thinking.
There is no ecosystem in India to incubate creators to invent. Education is largely about memorising archaic subjects that are of no value in the real world. I would send my child to a Steiner School or Sonam Wangchuk’s school – Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh. Another interesting school is Integrated Arts Academy in Vermont. They have a unique model of education. They teach geometry through abstract art.
Failure is your best friend, it teaches you much more than success. I have failed consistently my entire life. The foundation of my life is failure. The best innovators are people who weren’t afraid to fail – Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Howard Hughes.
Innovators are rebels, non conformists, risk takers. They are the round pegs in square holes. Misfits in society. They are always pushing the envelope. They are borderline crazy. Remember Wright brothers strapping wooden wings to their shoulders and jumping off a cliff
Innovation is the most potent transformational tool. It can change lives and transform the world. The jobs that will exist in 20 years, we don’t even have names for those today. How will we get there if we don’t give our children the right stimuli today.
Your brain is biologically hard wired to constantly think of something new and futuristic. Can you push yourself to invent something simple that will impact lives?