Education is the Foundation for InnovationWhen we look at innovations, the new things that come into our life, it is simply a new idea or process that was spawned by all the ideas and processes that preceded the innovation. Every innovation, invention, was the blending of personal experience and the experience of previous generations. When we understand that education is the foundation of all innovation, we have the greatest potential for success.

Birds flew long before man got into the airplane. We had to ask and understand how birds could fly. We developed wings, put them on man and machine and they didn’t work. We had to understand differential air pressure and flow over a surface. Ultimately we had to learn the processes of lift and propulsion. After all that, the Wright brothers combined all that information and designed the wing that could lift the airplane off the ground. The invention of the airplane was the summary of many individuals’ successes and failures. Those who learned from their own and others’ experiences eventually moved forward. They were the innovators.

Two ways to Learn:
We learn things in two ways, by our own experiences and the experiences of others.
This is the basis of all education. It is the learning process. Our own experience is limited to what we can learn during our own lifetime. It is limited by time. Learning from other peoples experience comes from the books we read and our association with family, teachers, coaches and mentors. When we learn from other peoples’ experience, we unlock the greatest potential for success.

Our teachers teach the experience of others through books. Our teachers do not develop mathematical principles, but they share the wisdom of the many people who developed and refined them. The true art of the teacher is to be able to pass on this wisdom to the student. When the student can apply what the teacher has taught, the wisdom has reached the next generation.

Fortunately a student does not have to experience war to understand the causes, implications, and tragedies of war. When we study history, we can learn so much and benefit from the experiences of those who lived it. The advances in medicine and technology that we enjoy today were hardly dreams, fifty years ago. Conversely, if we choose to discount or ignore what we can learn from history or from other peoples’ experience, we limit our potential and compromise our chances for success and innovation.

I did it my way:
Sometimes we believe in our own experience, that we know better, and we miss the benefit of other peoples’ knowledge. Over the years I have spent hours on the practice tee practicing my golf swing. My golf swing is based on my perception of the proper swing and the memory of when and if I ever hit a good shot. That is learning from my experience. I have 50 years of my own golf experience. How’s it working so far? Do I really know more than a pro?

But suppose I engaged a golf professional to help me. I could add his expertise to my personal experience. I’ve been there. The golf pro looked at my swing. Smiled. Then made a few suggestions. I could see it in his eyes. He wondered how I ever hit the ball and more importantly, how I could predict where I should begin to look for the ball when I hit it. Until I made the commitment to add his wisdom and expertise to my personal experience, there was little that he could do.

I spend a lot of time in the tall grass and in the woods. But think of it this way. There are more golfers who try to improve their game based on their own experience rather than from the experts. Because they rely on their own expertise, I find a lot of golf balls in the tall grass and woods while looking for my own ball. There really is a positive.

Know your strength and then grow your strength.
What is your talent or skill?
Everyone has something that they feel they do well. In a job interview, how would you answer the questions?
        1. What do you consider you best talent?
                2. What is your strength?
                        3. How can you help my company?

Hopefully you carry the answers around with you all the time. Your strengths are your strengths. They are personal. They are not what other people prescribe for you or what they think about you. The important thing is to identify your skill set. We cannot be skillful at everything, but the skills that we have are the foundation for success.

Your strengths can change. You can develop new talents. You have to be willing to be bad at something before you can be good at it. Your talents are developed. They become strengths through practice, repetition and refinement.

Measure your strengths by your goals, by what you want to achieve. It does not have to be compared to others but simply something that you do well. When you find something that you do well, you can improve that skill by practice and by coaching.

There will always be someone who can do what you can do just a little bit better. You can only be better at the moment of competition. The players change over time and new players with more and current practice raises the level of competition. Compare the winter Olympic competition fifty years ago with the events and skill levels of the athletes today.

Your personal assets
Your talents, skills, strengths are your personal assets. If you owned a gold mine, you would work to mine the gold. The gold mine would be your asset. The gold would be the foundation for your future. You wouldn’t think twice about doing some mining each day for find some gold. Your strengths are like the gold nuggets. You have to willing to work each day to mine your strengths. When we recognize that our strengths will be the foundation for our future, finding them, refining them and polishing them will be our daily routine.

Education is the Foundation for Innovation.
It all begins with our willingness to learn and grow. Just as you can’t make a plant grow, no one can make us grow. We put a plant in an environment that will promote growth. We must put ourselves in an environment that will facilitate our growth. Note that the operative word is ‘we’. We are responsible for our ability to grow. Our teachers can’t make us learn but they can create an environment to facilitate the process.

Make each day, a day in your gold mine. Learn something new. Mine some gold. And when it is your turn show the next generation how to mine gold, you will be able to tell them where to dig. You be able to tell them how they can grow their way to success.

A Pattern for Success:
1. Personal experience and the wisdom of others is the basis for the best decision.
2. Find your strengths. Refine your strengths. Grow your strengths.
3. Education is the foundation for your success. Learning is a personal decision.

Read: Chapter 5, Growth is a Decision, Grandpa And Andy, by Dr Richard B Liposky at