We’re getting used to being surprised by innovation. Most everyone has heard of the 3-D printers that can now create a human body part.

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When I wrote this, I was watching the launch of another SpaceX rocket, getting us closer and closer to realizing Elon Musk’s realistic dream and plan to land on Mars soon.

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And what about this?

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Yup. That’s a full IPhone screen on your wrist (!) from a “Cicret Bracelet” that someone just took out of the water in the bathtub! Here’s a video if you want to know more about what you see here:

 

How Do You Respond to Change?

Charles H. Duell was the Commissioner of US patent office in 1899. Mr. Deull’s most famous quote is “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” Most patent attorneys argue the quote is apocryphal. Clearly, neither Duell nor the patent attorneys heard of Circret bracelets!

All of these innovations leave me wondering, what will they think of next? That’s the same question my mother probably asked when, she saw her first automobile, heard the “wireless” for the first time or used her first computer.

She was sure all of this change wasn’t good. She never trusted computers. When Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, she didn’t think it was “natural” and forever after blamed him whenever there was any unusual weather. It was outside of her world and, therefore, unthinkable.

How we respond to new things is a part of our wiring, the genetics and events that form our personalities and how we view the world. As we all know, the world is changing fast, particularly technology, that if we are wired not to like change, we may be in serious trouble.

Change will happen whether we like it or not. As leaders, we should be open to it…or we just might miss something. If the box holding our view of the world is kept closed, we won’t even recognize the ideas and experiences waiting outside.

Mr. Ferragamo’s Magical Winery

Just off a marvelous cruise to Florence, Italy, we disembarked and boarded a bus to Salvatore Ferragamo’s winery (you know, the fancy shoe guy). We walked among the pristine room lined with oak barrels. We helped ourselves to a snack from a table laden with lovely nibbles. Our guide then led us outside to a flower-strewn courtyard with vistas in every direction. The sky was cloudless. In the courtyard, there were three tables each with a different wine and glasses. We were asked to take a glass from the first table and be seated in the warm sunshine.

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Photo credit: https://www.pinterest.com/madeintuscany/il-borro-san-giustino-vno/

As we sat down, four gentlemen wearing black formal dress and carrying a musical instrument entered the courtyard and prepared their instruments. As the violinist played some quiet classical riffs, our host announced that the quartet had written music for each wine. He asked us to sip and listen.

There were three pieces performed. There was no chatting in between each piece. Our intimate audience was mesmerized into total silence.

We were all silent, not just because of the sumptuous and sensual setting, but because something had happened we had never experienced. Not some great scientific discovery or a new kidney whipped out of a man-made printer, but an emotional high that went well beyond the effects of the wine. It sounds melodramatic now, but we felt transported to another place—where the earth and sky, body and soul meet on a different plane. Something none of us imagined and a few of us couldn’t believe.

“What will they think of next?” a fellow traveler asked when it was over.

As a Leader, Innovation Starts with You

Most everything is possible now, but somebody has to dream it first. So, why leave the thinking up to “they”? The question we should ask instead “What can I think of next?”

If someone has a good idea today, chances to implement it have never been better. Crowd sourcing has provided multiple innovations that would not have been imaginable in the past. The world has windows and doors just waiting to be opened for possibility. And, yes, you and I could be one of the openers.

And certainly, it is our responsibility to teach this to our children as they will be the inventors and designers of the future.

Not all of us can visit Mr. Ferragamo’s magical winery but we all have the chance to see what we can do in our worlds. We can think of what we haven’t thought before if we take away the self-imposed barriers.

So, I ask you leaders: What can you think of next?