Eclectic Curiosity

A Receptive Mind

Posted on September 24th, 2002, by Steve Hardy in Archives, Miscellany. No Comments

A Receptive Mind (mini-essay #2). It cannot be overstated how important the simple act of asking a naïve question can be. It triggers the consideration of something altogether new. It deposits some speck of impurity into the mix. It opens up avenues that lead to new intersections. But it is only a receptive mind that is able to answer a naïve question. You have to be open to the unexpected so that if you come upon a discovery you’ll recognize it and act upon it.

If DuPont scientist Stephanie Kwolek hadn’t had an open mind back in 1965, she would never have discovered how to make the fiber that is used in bulletproof vests, radial tires, fiber-optic cable, suspension bridges, and spacecraft shells – a fiber five times stronger than steel. If 3M scientist Art Fry hadn’t had a receptive mind in 1980, he would never have realized the utility of a new, low-tack adhesive that a coworker, Spencer Silver, had invented as repositionable notes. If Budweiser marketing executives hadn’t had an open mind, they would never have seen the infamous “wassup” guys for cultural phenomenon that they became.

Inspiration comes from making new connections between the lines. One must be open, not limited by the status quo and finally, be at liberty to explore. That’s what play is all about. Playing is essentially naïve exploration. In a business context it is naïve exploration…with a purpose. Playing is a directionless journey through the unknown, the untried, the ridiculous and the random. It is a practical stroll through things that are normally considered dumb, impractical and misguided but that somehow puts in to question these judgments and assumptions and sometimes completely shifts one’s opinions and perceptions about them altogether. Play repositions old thoughts and actions in a new light, flipping black to white and forward to reverse. A receptive mind sees the world through such fresh eyes… although what is seen is inevitably shaded by the coloured glasses being worn.

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