"To avoid criticism,
do nothing, say nothing, be nothing." â€"Elbert Hubbard
BE WILLING TO BE LED ASTRAY
Roger von Oech, author of one of our favorite books, Whack on the Side of
the Head, has a new book on creativity based on the wisdom of Heraclitus.
In this book, Expect the Unexpected (or You Won't Find it), von
Oeck offers the following advice on expectations....
"When we go off the beaten path, we often find something better or more exciting
than we were originally looking for. For example, physicist Karl Jansky improvised
a new antenna to study the effects of telephone static. Instead, he discovered
radio waves from the Milky Way galaxy, and in the process helped create the science
of radioastronomy. In 1856, chemist William Perkin searched for a synthetic quinine
to combat malaria. Instead, he discovered a dyestuff that was the first practical
"Think of the times in your own life when one thing has led to something
entirely different. How did you get interested in your line of work? How about
the times you have gone to the library in search of a particular book, and then
found something even better on the shelf behind you? As writer Franklin Adams
put it, 'I find that a great part of the information I have was acquired by looking
up something and finding something else on the way.'
"How can we prepare ourselves for the unexpected? I suggest that we: (1)
loosen our preconceptions about what we expect to find in any given situation;
(2) pay special attention to the anomalous rather than ignoring it; and (3) use
what we discover as stepping stones to something very different. Why don't we
adopt this outlook more often? A major reason is that in order to get things done,
we tend to filter out information that strikes us as 'irrelevant'. Indeed I find
that I'm less likely to find the unexpected when I'm in a hurry or narrowly focused
on a specific task. Conversely, when I'm relaxed or playful, there's a greater
probability that unexpected things will flow my way."
Both of the von Oech books can be ordered from any bookstore or through the publisher,
Simon and Schuster.
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