Education is the Foundation for Innovation

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

Add Some Tools To Your Toolbox

ToolsIs it important to learn something everyday?
As a parent, at what time in your children’s development do you feel that they can quit learning?  We know that our children will have a different opinion.  They go through growth periods when they feel they are topped off.  They know all that they will ever need to know.  With our wisdom, we know that they will need more so we wait for the moment when we can continue to teach, coach and mentor.   But as a parent, when do we know it all?  Would our parents accept that we know everything or would they simply wait for the moment when they could continue to teach, coach and mentor?

We feed our child in order to support physical growth.   We teach our children in order to stimulate mental growth.  When the child matures physically, we continue to feed him, to maintain the integrity of the body.  But when is the child’s mental growth completed?  At what point do we no longer have to teach our children or young adults?  Most people would say that, as a parent, we are always teaching or coaching our children through out their/our lives.  So as parents, when do we no longer have to learn…to add knowledge?  When do we reach the point when we know everything?  I hope the answer is ‘never.’

Where we are today is based on the decisions that we made using what we have learned up until this day.  Where we will be tomorrow is based on what we have learned and will learn today.   If we choose not to learn today, not to add to our foundation, our tomorrows will be the same as our todays.  If we want changes in our tomorrows, we must start today.  Today is the foundation for our tomorrows.

Our Cerebral Toolbox
Knowledge is like the tools in a toolbox.  Each bit of information that we have is a tool.  If we choose the wrong tool (bad information), we get a bad result.  If we choose the right tool, we get the job done.  If everything we know is represented in our cerebral toolbox, then we are limited by our tools…our knowledge, what we have learned to this day.

But what if we keep adding tools to our toolbox?  Some of the tools we may never need.  Some we don’t even know how to use.  Some tools are there just in case.  The fact that the tools are in our toolbox means that we are no longer limited to the things we can fix.  We can fix anything.  A challenge is nothing more than the task at hand.  But the important thing is we can also build anything.

Knowledge is the foundation.
Knowledge is the foundation for all the decisions that we make each day.  It allows us to recognize, understand, accept or reject change.  It supports growth and creativity.  Diversity and creativity is a function of how we use what we have learned.   It we want to enhance the growth process and inspire creativity, we have to continue to add knowledge to our foundation.  We must continue to learn in order to grow.

If we limit the size of the foundation, we limit what we can build on that foundation.  If we continue to add to our foundation, we expand the potential for growth, diversity and creativity.   Therefore, it is important for us to continue to add knowledge…to continue to add to our foundation.

Knowledge is static. It is just information. It’s the facts as we interpret them.  Using the same information over and over is like washing your face with the same water.  Over time, with out any new water, you are washing with dirty water.  Over time, if you don’t add to the knowledge that you already are using, you will be doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Broaden and strengthen our foundation.
There are only two ways to learn.  We learn from personal experiences and from the experiences of others.  Our personal experiences are limited.  The experiences of others are unlimited in potential but limited by one’s desire to learn from them.  We don’t have to jump off a cliff to see if it hurts.  We just have to read the story of how the man felt when he hit the ground.

Other peoples’ experience comes in two forms:  the people whom we meet and the books that we read.  You can only meet so many people.  We must surround ourselves with coaches and cheerleaders and avoid the people who want to keep us in their comfort zone.  Look for the people with the green or checkered flags and avoid the people with the yellow or red flags.

Thirty Minutes for a Dream
Eighty-five percent of the population do not read one book a year.  Less than one percent read more than one book a year.  One hundred percent of the population spends fifteen minutes twice a day in the smallest room in their house.  Thirty minutes a day reading would translate to one book per month or twelve books a year.  Thirty minutes a day reading would distinguish the individual in the top one percent of our population.

If one of the twelve books that you read each year is a self-help book, you are in an even more elite or distinguished group of individuals.  The most successful people focus on growing themselves and growing the people around them.  Success is a function of personal growth.  Success without personal growth is nothing more than a win.  Success with personal growth becomes a lifestyle and a legacy.

Think of your bookshelf as your toolbox.  Each book you read adds a tool to your toolbox.  The more tools that you have, the more things you can build.  The universal tool is personal growth and this tool will build a strong and broad foundation. When a man buys a drill, he is looking to make a hole.  When a man buys a hammer, he is looking for a nail.  But when a man buys a book, he is looking to build the foundation to achieve his dream.  Fifteen minutes twice a day!!!

Kids ask the tough questions

Grandpa and AndyA little boy asked his grandpa a question. Grandpa smiled and answered the question. The little boy quickly asked another question and grandpa answered it. He immediately followed with another question. This time grandpa looked at his four year old grandson and said, “Matthew, you have a lot of questions, today.”

The little boy looked up at his grandpa and replied, “But Grandpa, I need a lot of answers.”

Kids ask the tough questions. The questions are pure and innocent. They are not couched in political correctness, politeness, or family or social conventions. They come from the child’s observations of us and their environment.

If a four year old asks a question, we give him the information in a way that he can digest and understand. If a fourteen year old asks the same question, again we must give him the information in a way that he can understand. It is the same question requiring the same answer, but the information is modified to the child’s level of understanding. Making that adjustment places a huge responsibility on the parents, on Grandpas and on those who influence our children.

How do children learn?

Children use all their senses to gather information. They see, hear, feel, smell and touch. They process the information which then becomes the foundation for future interactions. A four year old may run from loud noises because he associates the noises with a frightening loud noise as an infant. A fourteen year old turns up the sound so he can feel the vibration and aggravate the neighbors.

Interesting, a child observes how his parents interact. He sees and feels the respect that they have for one another. Years later, that can translate into how the child as an adult, relates to his spouse. The parents may not have even realized that they were teaching without talking.

Who are the teachers?

We are all teachers. We are always on stage. If children learn through their senses, then any interaction with children is a teaching moment. We are teaching without talking. In the book, “Grandpa And Andy”…a grandfather’s handbook, the author talks about the doctor who was raising a fuss at the Home Depot store because he had dandelions in his daffodils. A teenager, standing by his dad, didn’t see an old man with a daffodil issue. He saw his family doctor raising a fuss with the sales clerk. He thought that he would never want to be a doctor because based on what he was seeing, doctors are arrogant and disrespectful to other people. The daffy doctor had a significant affect on the young man’s career decision. Hopefully the young man had other teachers in his life that helped him to choose his career based on good credible information. Did the daffy doctor know he was on stage? Yes. But he thought the audience was made up of all daffodil lovers who supported his protestations against dandelions.

Children do ask the tough questions but so do the people around us every day. We can influence people simply by our presence. Children learn from our actions. Like little Mathew, they need a lot of answers but they often don’t know what question to ask. They watch, listen, and experience their environment. As they learn, their curiosity spawns the questions. The old saying, “when the student it ready, the teacher will appear.” We are all teachers to someone. We just don’t know who is the student or when he will be ready to learn. It’s not too complicated. Our actions can affect children attitudinal and social development. We are always on stage.

Adults judge our actions. Our actions can affect our own personal and career development. If we ignore our responsibility for our personal and career development, it only affects us. But if we abdicate our responsibility to our children, then we not only hurt them, but our action has a generational affect. Our children learn from us and will teach the next generation. We are always on stage. We must take responsibility for our performance. There is always an audience. Give your best performance.