Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Edison’

Dream a Little Dream

A while back, the blower on my old van wore out. I’m one of those old guys that don’t like to spend money unless he has to. I just let it go, as I really didn’t need it replaced at the time. However, winter is coming on out here in Nebraska, where one will often go outside to find a quarter-inch of ice on their windshield during the winter months. There is a need to have hot air blowing on ones windshield out here during winter, and, subsequently, and operating blower.

I’m not going to put a new blower in a twenty-one year old van. There’s a junk yard out here in a little town called Utica which seems to have just about any spare part for any vehicle a person would drive. Utica is about 25 miles West, and another 10 miles or so North of where I sit. So, off I went to secure myself another blower for the van.

The most efficient way to get to Utica from where I live is to get up on the interstate, and exit at another little town called Gohner. Gohner has all of 192 people living in it. Nebraska tends to be pock-marked with micro townships all over the place. Anyhow, one needs to get off at Gohner, drive a few more miles North, then West again several miles till one makes it to Utica.

I hadn’t been out that way for three, or four years, so I was really enjoying the view. Where I live, the land sort of roles in long, lumbering hills that one often can’t even tell they’re going up unless they’re on a bicycle. Out there toward Gohner, and Utica, the land gets flat as a pancake, and one can see trees balancing all the way out on the edge of the horizon.

I’m driving along, taking in the landscape, when the Gohner exit comes up on me, and I need to get off the interstate, and get on a regular state road. Just off the interstate, on the outskirts of the little town of Gohner, someone had constructed a frontier village. The village wasn’t very accurate historically for the area, as the buildings were made of logs, and not sod. I’m guessing sod is pretty hard to come by these days, so logs must have had to suffice. Anyhow, there was a livery stable, a saloon, a general store, all set up for tourist to stop in and recreate, including what appeared to be a frontierish looking playground for the kids.

Sadly, the project must not have worked out for the projector. Leaning up against the fence lining the frontier village was a large piece of plywood. Painted neatly in large letters on that piece of plywood leaning up against that fence were the words, ‘A dream died here.’

Seeing this sign didn’t ruin the rest of my jaunt, but it did make me feel sorry for whatever entities put this project together. There is something I may never have the opportunity to tell them, but I am going to take this opportunity to tell you. Dreams don’t die, they get abandoned. They may run into all kinds of problems, and setbacks, and oppositions, but they do not die. They get abandoned along the side of the interstate like a dog your landlord tells you you’re not allowed to have in the apartment.

Dreams don’t die. They are composed of thought energy, and sort of bounce around the Cosmos like radio waves. Leonardo da Vinci dreamt of a flying machine, but it didn’t come into fruition till a couple of hundred years later … others along the way picked up on the dream, and did what they could with it. Thomas Edison dreamt of illuminating the night, and he picked at it till it happened.

The idea that dreams die is defeatist. If you have a dream you can’t get put together, someone else will pick it up, and run with it. Go get another dream, and see how far you can take it.

You’re spectacular, dynamic. Stay that way. Get a dream, and work it.

Finding the Inner Voice

I was talking to an associate once about meditation.  I was explaining to him about controlling the inner voice.

“You mean voices.” he said, ”I have a lot of voices talking in my head sometimes.’”

So, what we came up with during that sitting was how to find ones control voice among ones inner voices.  Getting a handle on your control voice will help you get a handle on controlling your thoughts, and, thereby, have better control over your life.

Here’s how you find your control voice:

1. Look at the palm of your hand.

2. Wiggle your fingers.

3. Say to yourself, with words inside your head, ‘This is the palm of my hand, and I have just wiggled my fingers.’

4. Mentally note where this voice is, and how to refer back to it.

Here’s another way to look at this feature of the mind.  It is focus, a trait and ability of the Human mind.  Aside from short confirmations, such as, ‘I’m going to enjoy this.’, focus does not need to talk in order to function efficiently.  In fact, it is probably better if it keeps its mouth shut most of the time.  All you want is the place from where the voice comes.

Learn to control it.  Get quiet, and relaxed.  Have that voice count your breaths.  Don’t allow any of the other stray voices, nor stray thoughts passing through your mind to interfere.  Practice this till you can do it for several minutes.

Following this phase, get quiet, and relaxed, then set your focus in a lawn chair out in the yard of your mind.  Let stray thoughts, and voices wrestle, and tumble, and fool around further out in the yard of your mind.  Observe them, but don’t acknowledge them, nor interact with them in any way.  Most of those stray thoughts, and voices will just leave.  This is a more Buddhist form of meditation.

Another thing to do is to allow your focus to rest entirely.  Set up a guard in your mind that intercepts those stray thoughts, and voices.  This guard informs those stray thoughts, and voices that you are busy at the moment, and asks them to come back later.  I actually use the vision of a theater usher in an ushers monkey suit and a flashlight that approaches stray thoughts, and voices, saying, ‘Shhh!  If you don’t be quiet, I’m going to have to ask you to leave.’  This is a more Christian form of meditation.

When you are skilled at controlling your focus, you can practice ‘contemplation.’  Contemplation, like meditation, is a form of mindfulness.  To practice contemplation, one picks a subject, or a phrase, or a system, or an object, and explores it with their mind, excluding  thoughts on anything else.  This practice is often referred to as Platonic Exploration, due to certain philosophical views Plato professed.  A contemplative session is also referred to as an ‘Edisons Nap,’ as Thomas Edison was adept at overcome engineering problems using this technique.

Till next time, remember, you have one of the rarest, and one of the most phenomenal material matrices located up there in your brain housing group.  Learn to get the best out of it.  You are spectacular.

Reflexive Mind Control

Energy has the habit of dissipating all over the place.  You can get energy to do work for you by learning how to harness it, and focus it in a specific direction.  Energy becomes very potent under these conditions.  You can start a camp fire with just a little bit of Sunlight focused through a magnifying glass at a spot on a piece of wood.

Mental energy is the same way.  If we allow it, our mental energy will dart around all over the place.  Our minds will jump from one issue to another, then back again, then off again, over here, over there.  This is not a good way to get things done.  If we learn to harness our mental energy, focus that energy, we may not only accomplish more, but feel less batty in the long run.

Thomas Edison was very focused.  He accomplished more in a day than most of us accomplish in month.  He would focus on one issue, settle that issue, then move on to the next.  During his time, people thought Leonardo da Vinci was flighty.  It is said he would finish a statue, set his chisel and hammer down, then dive into a painting.  On whatever DaVinci was working, he gave his full, undivided attention.

I see advertisements in the help wanted ads seeking ‘multitaskers.’  I see images of octopuses walking into offices applying for these jobs. Cutting edge management philosophy dictates that multitasking is a mistake, grotesquely ineffective.  One can not handle customer complaints over the phone, rewrite a memo, make a pot of coffee, give the boss an ego boost, and vacuum the floor all at the same time … or not, at least, without failing at each and every task.  However, each task taken in turn can be accomplished effectively.

Mental focus is a trait with which we humans are born, such as health and fitness.  However, like our health and our fitness, if our mental focus is not maintained, it tends to go to Hell in a hand basket.  Here is a simple exercise to help you sharpen your mental focus, it is a modification of the Buddhist practice of Meditation on Form:

Select a common, simple object, such as the cap from a stick pen.  Sit quietly with the object, and examine it. Let your mind rest on the object.  Mentally take note of the objects details right down to the most insignificant and infinitesimal.  What color is it, how much does it weigh, what are its features, for what is it used, how was it made, etc.?  At first, only do this two to five minutes, building yourself up to longer chunks of time.

Set the object aside, and pick it back up to examine during your next session, noting additional details.  When you feel you have noted all the details of this object of which there is to note, select another common, simple object to examine with the same process.

When you feel ready, move on to examining more complex objects, such as the page in a book.  Of what is the page made, how may it have been produced, how many words are there on the page, how many letters, are there any miss-spelled words, or imperfect letters printed, etc.?  As before, set this object down when you are finished, and revisit it during your next sessions till you feel you have noted every detail there is to note.

As I’ve suggested, start slowly, and work your way up.  Two to five minutes at first … you can’t do 100 push-ups the first time you hit the deck, and the same dynamic applies.  Work your way up to 20 minutes, or so.

Your mind is the only thing in the Cosmos over which you have total, and complete control.  Take control, and be even more spectacular.

Leadership Trait: Knowledge

I wont say Knowledge is unimportant as a Leadership Trait.  I will say Knowledge is over rated as a Leadership Trait.  If you’re hired in as a consultant, then Knowledge is crucial to your job, because a leader is eventually going to call you for consultation.  In a leadership position, interpersonal skills are more impotent.

In a leadership position, your knowledge base needs to be more general.  You need to know intimately the who, when, where, why, and how of your mission.  It’s good to know exactly how to construct a widget, but if you don’t know exactly how you can always ask someone.


Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison, one of the most prolific and effective inventors in history, lacked a formal education … except for three months worth.   The story goes that Edison became embroiled in a law suit over his own competency, despite his achievements.  To prove a point, the attorney for the opposition put Edison on the stand, and asked him to describe how he would go about determining the volume inside one of his new fangled light bulbs.

“Well,” Edison said, “I’d probably make a hole in the top, fill it with water, then measure how much water it held.”

That wasn’t good enough for the lawyer.  That lawyer hounded Edison to give him the mathematical equation appropriate for determining the volume of light bulbs.  The conduct of questioning frustrated Edison … which was the lawyers objective.  The response Edison gave the lawyer is historic:

If I had to know the formula, I’d hire someone to tell me.


Harry Truman

Folk lore tells us that there is an expletive lurking around in there somewhere, though I doubt  Edison would hazard himself with contempt of court.

Harry Truman was Franklin Roosevelts Vice President for political, rather than practical reasons.  There seemed to be some doubt as to his abilities when he took over the Oval Office.  His reply to nay sayers was this:

It’s like magic.  If I don’t know the answer to a question, I push this little button on my desk, and suddenly there appears some expert who can give it to me.

What I’d like to leave you with from this module is this rule of thumb, either know the answer or know where to find the answer quickly.

Till next time, develop those interpersonal skills, because you are fantastic.