Just Say Yes

Wow,  is there a lot of negativity in this man’s world. I have been reading a book by Tom Freidman “That Used To Be Us”. I know some of you will say “I know the gloom and doom he is writing” but wait. I love to read him because as TTG tries to do, he’s a pragmatic thinker. I don’t think he is being a downer but rather providing practical solutions to things. And he tells it like it is.

Several years ago Freidman really caught my eye on a special on PBS. He spent two weeks on either side of the wall in Israel. He listened and provoked discussion of everyday people from either flank. He found faults and strong points for both sides. He is a Jew. Ditto David Brooks. Their beliefs don’t prevent them from thinking clearly and without apparent bias. They say yes.

After detailing the world and peril we live in, Freidman says the way out is using the three C’s: Creativity/Critical Thinking, Communication and Collaboration. I really focused on the Creativity side.

Just for a moment think about our world and probably specifically you and I. We all have great ideas. We can look at the simplest of things and see possibly a way to do them better. You know “If only…” but it stops there. We are too busy or worse yet we are afraid to get dumped on.

Rejection and fear of failure sucks. Ridicule is worse. But how often in our day do we see that? Take politics. Well we can’t raise taxes. No. No. Don’t touch entitlements. No way. We can’t take out loopholes. I won’t get reelected.  And the beat goes on. Simpson Bowles was a great blueprint to solve the debt crisis but nobody even looked at it before it was shot down.

Think about our kids. We normally have two reactions. Do it my way and be careful you don’t go out on that ledge. Granted we want to protect them and yeah probably keep them in line but what are we really doing? Stifling original thoughts. You know when I was your age… We are  so afraid to let them fail. To be scarred.  But that is really the only way they can learn.

Schools today with their emphasis on testing never consider there could be another answer to the question. Just regurgitate back to me what I have told you. That is the right answer. Did I hear this week that Einstein’s Theory of Relativity might be in doubt? I am not a rocket scientist but that doesn’t keep me from trying another way.

I had a couple conversations this week. One with a mother and the other a manger of sorts. When I posed something new they were either doubtful or dismissive. I just imagined if I was one of their kids or employees. Ugh!

Going on with the book it became apparent that the “New Normal” was going to reward those who can think outside of the box. It was that creativity and critical thinking that couldn’t be done by a machine or the masses, which would engender value added and ergo higher return.

Here’s my try. We have 42,000 miles of interstate highways in the U.S.. We have enormous supplies of natural gas. What if we put a natural gas station every 50 or so miles on those biways? Even if we had to build them from scratch let’s say it would be $50 billion. One time cost. The nations trucking business consumes 54 billion gallons of fuel a year. Instead of oil from Arabia what if that was gas from the U.S.?

Now quickly test yourself. Did you say there is no way that will ever work or hey, maybe that’s a good idea. Let’s hear more. Did you take the idea and run with it a bit or just dismiss it? Don’t worry about me. I gave up being sensitive a long time ago.

What about all you geniuses out there? What about your kids? Please don’t tell me you are too busy. Just look around for simple things. Send them back and we will get you press time to the hardy souls that read this. Most importantly just get that great mind of your going. Creativity is looking at the ordinary and seeing the extraordinary.

One other chat I had this week was with a wonderful young man. He is smart and industrious. When I tried to engage him in my ruminations about the state of our country he begged off. As a matter of fact I think he was telling me in a polite way to bug off.

I got it but I wondered if his dislike of engagement was personal or endemic of a larger malaise. Get in your own foxhole. Forget about the rest of the world. Somehow I wanted to enable him. I wanted to tap into his ideas. I wanted to say yes. Maybe that is just me.

As always

Ted The Great

Factoids:

There are 15.5 million trucks in the U.S. Almost 4 million are tractor trailers.

UPS is the largest trucking company in the U.S. There are actually 500,000 companies overall. They all pay $21.5 billion in road taxes.

Google Creativity. There are 186,000.000 results.

PBS has a great show called “Everyday Edisons”. Have your kids watch it.

Da Vinci drew detailed sketches submarines, helicopters, parachutes, crossbows etc. In the 16th century JUST SAY YES

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