Aha Moments….

I am siting here in the Cutaneous Oncology department of the University of Colorado Med Center. They are performing MOHS surgery on my forehead or as a golfing buddy says,”they are taking a divot.” Now this being Ted’s Head I am not sure if they will tap into my grey matter or even more terrifyingly if there is any? I will try to write fast.

Mindsets, creativity and innovation have been cruising around my cranium for the last few days. I look at everything going on in the world and rather than succumb to depression about the course of events I find myself looking for where the solutions will come from. I noted the other day that technology of the future will be able to examine my stools on a daily basis to see if I am healthy or not. Surely such a noble pursuit should make it easy for us to solve more obvious problems.

Now do we look to the octogenarians, millennials or infants for salvation? I happen to think it is going to be all of us. From just a few months after birth we begin on life’s journey for better or worse. We develop mindsets which may encompass our intelligence, personality and aptitudes. We become us. Science has taught us that through genes and environment that somehow the dye is cast one way or another. You only have so much to work with and we will do our best but please realize your limitations.

Aha, there is a different dimension. It seems that may best be described by the concept of fixed and growth mindsets. Fixed is as we described above and the resulting implication is eye opening. If you believe you can’t be any better, then you are preoccupied with the hand you are dealt. You then seek out attribution, praise and judgment based on that. You are looking at the same face in the mirror every day and seek approval over and over again. As one pundit put it,”You have been dealt a hand. You would like it to be a royal flush but you are petrified you are just a pair of eights.” Interesting.

Now the growth mindset is more fluid and in a way forgiving. You are encouraged to try or experiment but you also make mistakes. That is how you learn. You look at your ignorance not as an ugly birthmark but something to be corrected and enhanced through hard work and persistence. You don’t worry about your self esteem because you really don’t have time for it. You develop a passion for learning because that is how you get better…and brighter, whatever the hell that means.

Today we mark everyone on material accomplishments which is fine. But you could take a billionaire who although rich is not realizing his potential. His gauge of measurement is completely out of whack which is why we find major portions of people from all economic strata trying to find themselves or at best merely unhappy. I was in a meeting last night with a young woman who is a paleontologist for the Colorado Department of Transportation. What ?? As she explained what she did there was a wonderful element of passion for finding bones or whatever at the site of a new highway in the mountains.

Passion is a wonderful word. How about zeal,ardor, love, fervor, fire, enthusiasm, relish, gusto, vigor, energy, intensity. When was the last time you felt any of those? It is about having a vision for who you are or what you want to learn rather than just marking time. You potential becomes unknowable because each turn opens up a whole new roadway.

We hear the word talent and feel it is innate. Ben Hogan was a klutz in high school. Gates and Jobs were flops in academia. Oprah Winfrey grew up dirt poor. Henry Ford was a farm boy. Lucky or just driven by what could be? We seem obsessed by have and have nots, blue collar and white collar, right or left. We want to put people in categories because it is a lot simpler than having a zillion people with an equal number of conflicting beliefs. We fail to see each of us an individual with deep inner worth and yes incredible potential.

I am truly concerned about our kids from preschool to college. The recent university upheaval over the desire for a warm and nurturing place is not going to prepare them for a tough world but just an extension of the coddling first 18 years. Universities should be places of conflict and resolution of those travails. We praise, we pamper and most of all we make excuses for their inadequacies.We teach them how to cop out and not how to grow up. I am not saying beat them over the head but a critical evaluation provides a plan for betterment in the future rather than a cushy throne when they fall.

Just them? Think on. Through life we face the same fork in the road. I have this or that and it will keep me in whatever as time goes on. Happy? Sorry TTG, that is a state of mind that I can ameliorate through the finer things in life. Old farts? I have earned my life as it is and I am going to just sit back and enjoy it. As a matter of fact you owe me. I am entitled.

Growth mindset requires constant challenge and uncertainty. It is contrarian in so many ways. We can’t stand the unknown and what we perceive as impossible. You can give me a thousand reasons why something won’t work. Don’t bug me with all your foolishness. I am not a risk taker. I have never been good at science or math or art. Thinking outside the box is too scary. What if it doesn’t work or God forbid I lose everything? Are you really thinking about yourself or are you wondering and measuring by what other people think about you?

What if you just could pursue what you want to? What if you didn’t have a spouse and kids? What if you were impervious to judgment and criticism? What if you could just be you…the real you that lies within? If you can get there my friends, that is a real Aha Moment.

As always
Ted The Great


Only about 7% of the companies today are considered dynamic and open to change. Contrast that with the fact that we are by far the most innovative country in the world.

Change evokes several fears. First and foremost is the fear of failing. Secondly is insecurity. You get used to who and what we are and don’t want to risk the alternative. Third is the fear of being judged by others.

3M is a marvelous company. It thrives on innovation and failure. The Post It Note was accidental while trying to find an all purpose adhesive. They have a 30% rule where 30% of their business has to be from products developed in the last 4 years.

The Torrance Test for Creative Thinking has been administered to grammar schools students for the last fifty years. It does not test IQ but rather creative thinking. The test scores have descended significantly significantly. One possible cause is lack of free time and helicoptering parenting.

3 thoughts on “Aha Moments….

  1. Well said, Ted. I wonder about the parents of these entitled kids. Have they not experienced enough of the real world to teach and counsel their children to seek to understand others’ perspectives and to focus on the things that matter most in college, such as academic achievement. They expect to be heard and they expect others who don’t agree to be quiet. Ironic… These kids are dangerously heading toward a life with an attitude of entitlement, a life that will be filled with disappointment. I would like to change the commercial that features the Dos Equis guy and his closing line would be: ‘Stay curious, my friend.”

  2. Nice thoughtful post TTG. I hope they were able to close the gap. The thought of a truly “open minded” TTG is almost too much to bear.
    Happy Holidays from Az. Jay

  3. TTG; I always schedule one of the semi-annual visits to the Dermatologist for Halloween , damn Irish blood ! A former Marine (rowing partner) and Main Line parent complains the his children ( and generation) have never been punched in the nose ! BG

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