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:
- Stop learning (what other people have come up with)
- Start thinking (about making your own sense of the situation)
- 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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