The Power of the Mind and Small Business Ideas
By Rhett Kniep
It is common to think of a lightbulb when thinking about "ideas." It is so common it is almost cliche. You know, the lit bulb in a picture showing someone thinking or coming up with a solution or discovering something.
There are likely many reasons for it, but I would assume much of it comes from the father of inventors, known to us as the great Thomas Edison. Edison was a prolific inventor, and has a intriguing story. The truth is, Edison did not invent the first electric bulb, but he did develop a systematic way of producing an incandescent bulb that was commercially practical. In 1879, he patented a carbon filament method of producing light. The bulb lasted a mere 13 and 1/2 hours. But it was on a fishing trip to Wyoming where Edison came up with the idea of a carbonized bamboo filament. He was relaxing on the shore of a fishing lake and examining threads of his bamboo fishing pole when it hit him, and back at his lab he applied the bamboo filament idea and was able to achieve 1200 hours of light. This idea of Edison became the first major breakthrough for his development of commercially feasible electric lighting.
Now consider the situation. Edison was on a trip, a vacation. He was there to relax, fish, and see a solar eclipse. But there was one other thing that he was doing; a very important thing... HE WAS THINKING. He was thinking because that is what Edison did, and he understood the power of the mind. One of the greatest human inventions of all time resulted from a man relaxing and looking closely at his fishing pole... and thinking.
The world is a better place for Edison having lived because he knew how to think, and act on his thinking. Edison acted on his "business idea" and put it into motion by developing systems to produce his ideas. During that time he had started Edison Electric Light Company with the assistance of JP Morgan and Vanderbilt as financiers. No doubt the development of an idea, the pitching of the idea, and the forming of a company based on a novel concept took a lot of work. Those things always do. But it had to start somewhere, and that somewhere was the mind of Thomas Edison.
Money, position, resources, intelligence, talent... you name it... they are all necessary at some point in the process to develop an idea. But they are not necessary at the inception of the idea. There is only one thing necessary to get the idea, and that is IMAGINATION.
Albert Einstein said "The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge, but imagination."
He was right. The inventions of the world that have blessed and bettered the lives of untold millions did not come from merely knowing things, but from thinking things. Thinking is the Power of the Mind, and it has utterly limitless potential to solve problems and create solutions.
So why don't more people actually think? I mean if thinking really is the solution, why aren't there more solutions?
Edison had a placard in his lab (where he did all his developing of his "thinking") which said it best. It was Sir Joshua Reynolds ' famous quotation: "There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labor of thinking."
The real problem people face is not the inability to think, it's the lack of desire to think. Television, Internet, cell phones, I-pads, video games, and every other device designed to entertain and wow us throughout the day are waging war on our minds. They demand that we not think, but that we zone into whatever unreal territories they lead us. There is no original, creative thought when reacting to the flickering lights of a multimedia gizmo. (And what sad irony there is in that) But there can be and is creative imagination when we set out to foster our own minds.
We foster our minds when we focus with our minds. Instead of letting things happen to us, reacting to stimuli, we must aggressively and purposely pursue ideas. Ideas are generated by other ideas, which are generated by other ideas, and so on and on. It is a progressive process which ultimately leads to great ideas, and great solutions.
Reading, writing, building, calculating... these are activities which foster creativity. Whether they are entertaining or not is unimportant. The real question is: do these activities engage my mind toward creating a solution to a problem?
If you want to develop a successful small business, you must foster small business ideas. You find small business ideas by studying, engaging, interacting, and working in any area of interest. That area of interest is virtually limitless. It can be making home-baked goods to sell at your neighborhood street corner. It can be setting up a lab to design and manufacture mechanical devices. It can be anything you can imagine. But know this: all great businesses begin by a creative person engaging his or her mind to solve an existing problem through the means of their imagination.
This is the genesis of small business ideas and the genesis of small business success.
Think, design, plan, sketch, organize, coordinate, and create. And who knows, a light bulb may turn on. :-)
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