February 11th is National Inventors’ Day. I’m sure everyone’s thoughts go to Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Joy Mangano, or Ron Popeil (It slices! It dices!)
People’s perceptions about invention trend toward gadgets that come out of basement workshops or massive research facilities. But that’s kind of a narrow definition of invention. And inventors are not just a narrow subset of technically-minded people. Invention is a day-to-day activity that just about everyone does, and it doesn’t just apply to creating a physical object. Men and women invent thoughts, ideas, and relationships all the time.
Let’s say you are looking at a quarterly sales projection and the numbers don’t add up somehow (It’s not just a math error.) Then you realize that if the company just did X in addition to A+B, a wonderful opportunity would present itself. You have invented a solution.
Perhaps you’re a team leader. You have two team members who clash (a lot) on the job. It’s not just a turf war, though, or clashing personalities. After a while, the light dawns. If you tweak the job descriptions a little, you can eliminate the overlapping responsibilities that are tripping up your team members. Again, you’ve invented a solution.
Maybe there’s some tension between you and one of your neighbors over how he/she mows their lawn. Maybe if you talk to them you can work it out. Maybe you can let go of your conviction that their grass being a half-inch higher than yours is not the end of the world. Well, maybe this could be called more of a case of growing up than inventing a solution. On the other hand, growing up is a process of inventing a better you.
Maybe you need to invent a better life for yourself. You might be in a job you really don’t like, or you’re chasing the wrong person romantically. Or maybe you are pursuing a career that seems to be sending you in the wrong direction. Changing something like that is inventing a different and, hopefully, better you.
When you look at it, life is a constant matter of inventing things or ideas that did not exist before. Inventing is not just for the Edisons of the world. It’s for everyone. It’s nice there’s a day honoring invention. Unlike Christmas, which only comes once a year, every day is Inventors’ Day!
You don’t have to wait. Go out and invent something today.