I really don’t feel like writing a blog post today. It’s early in the morning. I didn’t get much sleep. I don’t have a cat on my lap. I have too many cats on my lap. I haven’t eaten yet. It’s raining. It’s too nice out to be inside. I don’t have anything to say. I’ve got so many ideas in my head I can’t figure out which one to write about. No one reads these things anyway. Everything just feels wrong!
And you probably wouldn’t be too disappointed if I didn’t write a post today. I know that a few people seem to like the blog, but missing a day wouldn’t be the end of the world. There are plenty of other things to read, plenty of other ways to spend your time.
So I think I’ll skip it today.
And yet, one of the things I promised myself was that I’d post every day, unless something really unusual happens. It’s no big thing, just a promise to myself. I ended up writing the most popular post I’ve ever done on Christmas Day. If I can write a good post on Christmas Day, what’s my excuse for skipping January 7th? I can’t really think of one. And sometimes, if a thing is worth doing, you just have to dig in. Grind it out. Work at it until something good happens.
That’s why I hate all these books about innovation that have a light bulb on the cover. Innovation isn’t about inspiration. Innovation is about working hard. Sure, making novel connections is what it’s all about – but you can’t do that if you haven’t done the hard work to know what the connections mean. Here’s Gordon Gould, one of the people that invented the laser, talking about the moment of inspiration:
In the middle of one Saturday night… the whole thing suddenly popped into my head and I saw how to build the laser… But that flash of insight required the 20 years of work I had done in physics and optics to put all of the bricks of that invention in there.
So instead of light bulbs, I think that innovation books should all have a picture like this on the cover:
The symbol for innovation should be a person with a shovel in the middle of a big hole. That’s a better representation of what it takes to innovate. That’s why I went ahead and wrote a blog post today, despite all the good reasons not to. That’s why I’m heading in now to write a paper, review a couple others, and read. Have to do the digging so that I know what it actually means when I make some new connections. What are you going to work on today?
(the Gould quote is from Scott Berkun’s terrific book The Myths of Innovation)
(photo from flickr/Wessex Archaeology under a Creative Commons license)