Make your own sense of the world

While Isaac Newton was at Cambridge, the university was forced to close because of an outbreak of plague. He was very interested in how to predict the orbit of the Moon around the Earth, and so he spent two years thinking about the problem for himself. As a result he came up with calculus, his three laws of motion, the law of gravity, optics, and the reflecting telescope. If teachers had been available to teach him what they knew, he would never had had the time (or perhaps the inclination) to do this.

A similar thing happened with Einstein 250 years later. Getting a job in the patent office rather than the university gave him the time to think things through for himself. Whether or not he got the idea for space being curved by standing on a trampoline I am not so sure. But the point is that he only came up with new ideas by giving himself the space to step away from what others believed and make his own sense of things.

A hundred years later and the same applies to this guy (Jacob Barnett). At the age of two he was labelled as having autism, and he definitely sees the world differently differently from most people. But luckily for us his parents took him out of ‘special ed’ and encouraged him to be himself. As a result he was studying university physics by the age of ten and seems to have come up with new ways of doing calculus. There is even talk of his being nominated for a Nobel Prize.

Whether or not he wins that prize is not the point.

The point is that if you want to get different results you first have to think differently.

And if you want to do that then you have to:

  1. Stop learning (what other people have come up with)
  2. Start thinking (about making your own sense of the situation)
  3. Get creative (about applying what you have realised)

Making your own sense of the situation is perhaps the most important step of inner leadership. It is covered in Chapter 2.

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2 Replies to “Make your own sense of the world”

  1. This is a great post. One of things about Newton’s early years was that as a child he seemed to be absolutely fixated on the sun, light and shadows. He made his own sundials, and therefore had a connection with time, motion and the order of the cosmos that was perhaps unsurpassed by any other child and then teenager of his time.

    Your comments on sense of the situation really resonated for me, since Newton was immersed in the sensory world way before he developed his knowledge of mathematics, so it is really interesting to contemplate as far as we are able his sense of situation, and how his science and also religious views then followed.

    • Thanks Simon. I’m glad that you enjoyed this and your story about Newton adds to it nicely.

      As a human being I think our education systems seem to have forgotten that their purpose is to ‘draw out’ the unique person that every student is.

      And as a business person I see this as a huge opportunity, because the only way to get different results is to think differently (as google, whatsapp, pinterest, uber, airbnb, … have shown).

      Bringing these two views together is what The Churning is all about. And it has huge implications for sustainability as well.

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