We’ve all seen the “pick a card, any card” tricks and while we may not know how they work, we can anticipate the outcome. The upper echelon of magicians like Houdini and David Blaine find ways to improve upon an old trick or create new ones that have never before been attempted. That’s how a Muhammad Ali or a Michael Jackson becomes famous. By taking the concept of psychological warfare into the boxing ring, Ali changed the way fighters market themselves and their events. By learning how to write, record, and produce music, Michael Jackson (and others like him) changed the concept of what it means to be an artist as opposed to just performing the songs that were handed to them. Such innovation is the atom of the world’s greatest inventions.
The Ford Model T was the standard back in 1908; now cars can run on vegetable juices. Alexander Graham Bell improved upon previous modes of communication by creating the telephone. Then, one of the basic components that makes wi-fi possible, the 802.11 standard, was created in 1997. Today, wi-fi devices and cell phones have upstaged Bell’s brainchild. The world that we live in has been sculpted by groups of people who found ways to improve upon an idea, people who contributed their gifts to a cause, and people who helped mold dreams into colossal realities.
The way to find yourself in the winner’s bracket by the year 2020 is to find a way to improve upon an idea that already exists. No, you may not have cemented your place in the history books by then (although it is possible), but you will have made strides that many of our contemporaries have not. If you’re trying to determine what you’ll improve upon, focus on a concept or an idea, not an object. For instance, you winning by the year 2020 could hinge upon you improving your relationships with other people. Friendship is a concept. Improving upon a friendship could mean creating a breeding ground for the support and love that any success needs to thrive. Focus on a concept, not a thing.
Johnny Morris, the man who brought us Bass Pro Shops, focused on the concept of supply and demand. He observed that there weren’t enough tackle options in local stores, but there was a demand for more tackle options. So, as the story goes, “[Morris] rented a U-Haul® trailer and took off across the country filling it with the newest premium fishing tackle he could find. When he returned home, Johnny set up shop in his dad’s liquor store. With this simple idea, Bass Pro Shops® was born” (The Story of Bass Pro Shops). Surely, you and I can do the same thing.
Each week, I’ve got some new idea about how we can all make the world a better place. Perhaps you could take one of those concepts and super-size it into something tangible. There are six years between now and May 2020, so we have the time to put in some serious thought, prayer, and work. While a lot of the people in my Linked In network are working with technology and in finance, I’ll be hammering out ways to better educate students. In the same way, Rod will be working on ways to better utilize his production and Mass Comm skills, and you may be working to improve the livelihood of the homeless, or developing legislation for your state.
Us Millennials have to stick together, the way the Baby Boomers have done, and reshape our reality by creating a new one and not simply being consumers of the current reality that we are being fed. Sure, there is poverty, meaningless television programming, racism, greed, etc. in the world, but let’s not be deterred from our goals and aspirations. Let us not let barricades stand between ourselves and the peace that comes with discovering and willfully walking in our destinies.
Let us improve upon the skills that our parents taught us, view our childhoods as life’s greatest standardized test, and improve upon the areas in which we have not always been proficient. Then, we can improve ourselves for the sake of our spouses, our children, and our coworkers.
Personally, I must learn to improve my communication skills and my self-motivation tactics. Whatever the case may be, innovation is how you move from being just another guy/girl peddling a mixtape, to headlining a sold out concert. Innovation is how one moves from broke college student to billionaire entrepreneur. Improving upon someone else’s idea is how you turn a Sega Genesis into a Playstation 4. Identifying the concept behind a situation, a lesson, or an invention will help us to create something better. In the end, we’re all going to either make the world a better place, or destroy it. Let’s see who’s winning in 2020.