Creativity: Milking Mother Nature For Ideas

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

 Here’s an idea to rev up your creative engines by taking a walk in a field. Reading time: 3:02

            Go ahead. Play hooky from the office. You owe it to your creative thought process. Still feeling guilty? Read on. Learn how three very creative leaders became outstanding in their field by literally STANDING OUT in their field.

cow leftside

Grant Wood masterpiece

Grant Wood’s “American Gothic”masterpiece

        Consider the teenager who stood out in a field and watched the harvesting of hay — row by row. He invented the television. The rows of hay gave Philo T. Farnsworth the idea of scanning and displaying a picture – row by row-on the television screen.

         A Swiss engineer also stood out in a field and subsequently invented Velcro. Georges de Mestral, using a microscope in 1941,  noticed how the hooks on the burrs and loops in the cotton fabric in his socks stuck together after he took a walk into the woods.

       Then consider the teenager, who at 14, ran a successful nail manufacturing business. One day he stood out in a field and subsequently invented the cotton gin. Eli Whitney got the idea of the claw-like machine that would pull the cotton fiber through a fence-like grid by observing a fox clawing through the chicken coop after a chicken and getting nothing but feathers.

      That field-day of the innovating proved productive and profitable. Consider the fields a place to field your fortune. After all, Grant Wood — the bucolic artist of such masterpieces at American Gothic--said he got his greatest ideas while milking cows! 

           How can you cash in on your field of fortune?  You don’t have to milk a cow to stir your creative juices but you do have to get up close and personal with Mother Nature. Take her hand and let’s go for a walk.


Grape Skins spawned idea that lead to antibiotics.

Grape Skins spawned idea that lead to antibiotics.

Let’s take a walk into the vineyards.

     See those grape vines over there. So did Dr.  Louis Pasteur. He picked a grape and then peeled it  skin, realizing that the skin of grapes had to be broken open before the fermentation process in wine making can begin. That’s where Dr. Pasteur got the idea that a human’s skin must first be broken to become infected. That idea spawned the antibiotic industry.

     Let’s take a walk along the seashore.

Seaweed with its branch-like skin

Seaweed with its branch-like skin

         See how the seaweed crashes into shore wrapped in so many long branches of thinner seaweed that seems to add depth as it wraps itself around and around. So did Dr. Joseph Vacanti and he got the idea for developing 3-dimensional skin tissues in the laboratory that launched the bio-engineering field in general and the first experiments in growing of human organs in particular.

     Let’s take a walk in a garden.

        See that flower over there with the red leaves blooming early,  even in the winter cold. So did Charles Kettering, then an engineer at General Motors in 1912. The premature red leaves eventually helped Kettering develop leaded gasoline that stopped engine knock. Here’s how Kettering held Mother Nature’s hand in picking those early-blooming red leaves. Kettering figured  the red-color may spark an earlier combustion of fuel and oxygen which would stop the engine knock. He added red-colored iodine to the fuel.  The red-color clue eventually helped him discover lead in the iodine that did kindle earlier combustion and the end of engine knock.

    Let’s take a walk into the woods.

       See that wasp chewing wood into a paper-like paste to build its nest. So did French scientist Rene de Reaumur who got the idea for using wood as a resource for making paper.

      So go ahead. Play hooky today and milk Mother Nature for ideas. (See related post on Running Away With Your Immagination.

 Today’s ImproveMINT

Be creatively aware of your surroundings  to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.

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