Who says the Earth revolves around the Sun?

If you were like me, you were probably taught that the Earth revolves around the Sun, and that it takes one year – a bit over 365 days – for the Earth to complete one such cycle.

And you probably also learned that we didn’t always believe that.

You might have learned about Ptolemy, who believed that the celestial bodies revolved around the Earth. It seems impossible to believe now, but that was the established wisdom for thousands of years. People were executed for disputing this scientific “fact”.

When Copernicus came up with his idea of the Earth revolving around the Sun, it didn’t make sense. The scientists of the day disputed his claims and showed through “science” that he was ‘wrong’, by demonstrating that his theories couldn’t explain what was happening any better than the established wisdom. In fact, Copernicus’ model offered worse predictions than Ptolemy’s model.

But with contributions from Galileo and Kepler united under Newton, our world experienced a paradigm shift (in the original/ Thomas Kuhn sense of the term). And suddenly our textbooks were rewritten. And so “The Sun revolves around the Earth. The Sun has always revolved around the Earth.” became, “The Earth revolves around the Sun. The Earth has always revolved around the Sun.”

Now, with the benefit of hindsight, we of course know that we know the truth.

And yet, do we? Perhaps one abusing ‘Relativity’ might posit that it all depends upon where you are stationed – that from the perspective of the Earth, the Sun does revolve around it and vice versa. And maybe they are both wrong.

Such is the nature of “science”: The perpetual quest to prove oneself wrong.

The special challenge falls on those individuals who lead periods of revolution. Scientific, cultural, social, linguistic. Whether they are the revolutionary leaders of climate change or economics or politics or even intelligence.

You see it in someone like Howard Gardner in positing Multiple Intelligences back in 1983. Or Edward de Bono’s “Lateral Thinking”. Or Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow. From ‘ridiculous’ to ’self-evident’ in but a short few years.

If we are going to support and facilitate the development of more of these game-changing Great Minds – people with “capital C” Creativity – what sort of systems, policies, procedures, experiences and opportunities might we want to create?

In the past two weeks, I watched my four-month-old son learn to blow raspberries. Inspired by reading that this would be good for his language development (seriously!), and knowing that his mother can’t blow raspberries, I made the sacrifice and regularly blew raspberries at him. He was surprised at the start, then he started laughing. Then he started trying it out for himself. It took a while, and he ‘fell over’ a bunch of times. Even now, his raspberries are particularly sloppy. But he watched me and he did it – today, he can reliably exit a room and blow me a raspberry!

Interesting skills are usually the most difficult to transfer. We can learn Newton’s Laws, but it’s another story entirely to learn to think as Newton thought. Those tacit and almost invisible skills that sometimes leave behind traces of brilliance are the ones where we lack the language to teach the skills. Often we lack the explicit knowledge as to what is being done at all. Yet an infant can learn without language. They just look out at the world with eyes wide open and a willingness to explore, experiment and experience.

Ultimately, most of what we learn is false. It’s our best guess, but at best it’s almost certainly wrong or flawed. We want to get to those moments of joy and pure experience when we can create genius.

I wonder what would happen if  we would just choose to put our desire to control to the side, and accept the ambiguity, the obstacles and the knowledge that even our best work will probably be wrong. And just keep blowing raspberries.

(originally from TheGeniusProject.com)


Sitting at the Manly Wharf food court, I noticed a Boost beside between the Thai and Sushi outlets. Boost is a great success story – the founder even published a book – and yet it reminds me of an old friend.

Kim created Juice Break many years ago. Before juice bars had really even hit Australia – well before Boost – Juice Break was helping make Brisbanites more healthy by introducing them to the wonders of fresh juices and intensely healthy nutrition. Kim had a great little store and brought together some really cool people.

But Juice Break no longer exists.

It wasn’t that the product wasn’t “right” – as evidenced by the roaring success of Boost and a host of other juice outlets today. And the timing was pretty good too – Juice Break closed as the first of today’s successful juice outlets were opening. They could have been a market leader, ready to reap the turn of the tide and the resultant massive wave.

And Kim was – and is – really cool! A surfer, he’s likeable and fun to hang out with.

There were many reasons that we now know the story of Boost rather than the story of Juice Break. But one of the most important lessons for me is that success often lies just a short twist in the road away. So when you find something that inspires you, something that you feel is worth pursuing, you really gotta go for it.

It can take a long time to make your dreams a reality. Research into genius shows that it takes about a decade before anything really significant can be achieved. So choose something that you love to do… Something that is worth doing even if others don’t know you’re doing it… Something that you enjoy doing for its own sake rather than because you believe it will get you something.

I’m doing my NLP Trainers’ Training at the moment. It’s exciting. It’s interesting. It’s engaging. And with my good friends in Shanghai I’m looking forward to sharing my insights with more people upon my return. Maybe I’ll make some money from it – heck, I’d like that – but even if I don’t, I love being here and doing what I’m doing right now.

I figure that if you’re doing something that you love to do, even if it doesn’t get you where you want to go – even if it’s a total waste of time – if you choose to do something that you love to do for its own sake, you’ll never be really wasting your time.

A friend was telling me about his friend who wants to study law but who fears that she’ll not live long enough to practice. She’s just 20 and doesn’t think she’ll make it to 25. We all have our perculiarities, but to me the reason to study law is to enjoy the process of learning and experiencing the study of law… Not because you’ll become a lawyer.

I’d love to give the appropriate source, but I can just hear Marianne Williamson saying to me: “Do what you love. Do what makes your heart sing. And never do it for the money.”

And now I’m going to enjoy my tempura prawn roll and Berry Crush…

Some ideas that I’ve been developing…

Separation of Powers in Education, Cognitive Competencies, Selective Reinforcement of Spontaneous Behaviour and Open-Hearted Relationships of Unconditional Love… they’re all “hobby horses” that I have ranted on about from time to time, yet I haven’t always explored them as much or taken them as far as I could. Continue reading “Some ideas that I’ve been developing…” »

Upgrading the software for your mind

We talk a lot about software for your mind as a metaphor for your thought patterns – cultivating emotions (like compassion, tenacity, playfulness, love etc) or refining our thinking skills (creativity, learning, problem solving…)

However there’s some great software out there. One of them – Mindjet’s MindManager is sensational! It helps you organise, implement and communicate your ideas and concepts. I’ve just fallen in love with it (and their viewer that comes with a 5-day trial of the full software): Now I want a version for my smartphone…

If you’re looking for a more metaphorical software upgrade, I like the Four Hour Work Week generally, and particularly this post on Tim’s blog about finding your rhythm for peak creativity. His ChangeThis manifesto is pretty cool too. Though if you want a more-easily accessed stimulus for creativity, try sitting for a few hours in the couches of the Grand Cafe on the 54th floor of Jin Mao as I did this afternoon… truly inspiring!

Let’s surf: It’s never going to snow again and the waves are getting bigger…

Yvon Chouinard, the guy behind Patagonia, told Fortune magazine, “We’re getting into the surf market because it’s never going to snow again and the waves are going to get bigger and bigger.”

Climate change is a serious problem, though I did like this contribution from John Doerr at TED for a bit of reality.