“I am not an inventor. I am a discoverer of new scientific principles.” Nikola Tesla
Recently I watched a documentary from PBS (Public Broadcasting System) on Nikola Tesla. It is an excellent documentary and I highly recommend it for two reasons: First, it is fascinating how much of our technology and the conveniences of the modern world are based on the inventions, ideas, and creations of this man; and Second, to learn about the creative process that Tesla worked through.
Here are a few of products that are the results of Tesla’s creativity and inventiveness: Alternating Current; Induction Motor; X-rays; Radio; Three-Phase Electric Power; Tesla Valve; Tesla Coil; Wireless Telegraphy; Vacuum Variable Capacitor; Neon Lamp; Remote Control (yep, just like the one you use for your TV); Robotics and Lasers.
“Invention is the most important product of man’s creative brain.” -Nikola Tesla
When Tesla was a child he saw pictures of Niagara Falls and thought that there had to be a way in which to capture the energy produced by the waterfall. He had an idea and as he studied in school the traditional thought of the time viewed him as a charlatan. Instead of being discouraged Tesla continued studying, inventing and working towards his dreams. As an adult, he figured out exactly how to capture the energy of Niagara Falls creating the first hydro-electric power plant using a poly-phase alternating current to produce electricity. A large part of the inventiveness and creativity of Tesla was based on on his ability to look at the world different, to see possibility and have the courage to try things that others said wouldn’t work.
One person on the documentary stated that if the human race wants to create, invent, and produce great advancements in science and technology in the way that Tesla did, then we are going to have to learn to be creative like him.
“Ideas came in an uninterrupted stream and the only difficulty I had was to hold them fast…” -Nikola Tesla
Nikola Tesla believed in having periods of uninterrupted time in which to think, create, invent. He was a great proponent of solitude. I know that not everyone can work in solitude and the idea of large periods of uninterrupted time for most people is called a vacation.
Recently while on a hike with a friend, she told me about a post on the internet from some parents who do not schedule any activities for their children on the weekends. These parents believe that their children are scheduled enough throughout the week and should be free on the weekends to do things that interest them. If they want to spend an entire day watching TV, skateboarding, reading, playing with dolls, or doing nothing at all, they are allowed by their parents to do so. Just to be clear, there is parental supervision. The parents know where and what their children are doing. (So no running a muck and wrecking havoc.) The difference is that these parents do not plan out the activities for their children on the weekend.
My friend also said that it was disturbing the amount of harassment and shaming that these parents received for not providing structure and programs for their children on the weekend. These parents were told that they were bad and/or careless parents. That they were not providing structure. They were told that their children wouldn’t be able to fit in with others and would lack social or competitive skills. Again, just for clarification, these children go to school with other children. They participate in programs after school during the week. However, on the weekends the children are not scheduled in any type of program. If they wish to do something they may but the parents do not sign them up for anything.
I think those children have a rare and beautiful gift given to them by their parents. The gift of free time. The ability to have unscheduled time for creativity… for using their imagination…. for exploring…. for being themselves. I think that these children will have an advantage. They will be able to play and work on their own. They will learn time management skills in a way that someone who is scheduled all the time never will. They will learn how to figure stuff out.
Think about it in relation to your own life. How many hours a week are truly your own? We are a highly scheduled society. We work over forty hours a week and think that is normal. We have social obligations that we feel compelled to do. There are the joys and challenges that come with the familial social contract. We structure ourselves until we cannot think… cannot create… cannot invent… cannot feel… cannot function. What would you give to have free weekends to do whatever you wanted?
I think those children are lucky. I am impressed that their parents are thoughtful in giving them the opportunity to explore, create and be children.
“The mind is sharper and keener in seclusion and uninterrupted solitude.” – Nikola Tesla
I challenge you to be more like Tesla: see the possibility in the world around you; don’t be discouraged by those that don’t understand or can’t see what you do; don’t give up; allow for free time for thought and creativity; and most important, love what you do.