"Every walking animal is driven
to its purpose with a whack."
In my previous post, Embrace Failure, I provided one interpretation of the above epigram from Heraclitus, (the enigmatic ancient Greek philosopher whom I consider to be the world's first "creativity teacher").
Like all of Heraclitus' epigrams, this one can be interpreted in a variety of ways. I believe there's another creative strategy here, and it is: "Disrupt Success."
Success can make us complacent. We think,
"Everything's fine; things are working — why change them?"
So we stop trying new approaches. Often it's only when our success is threatened that we seek to make improvements. As I've mentioned before, sometimes we need a good "whack on the side of the head" to get us focused on our purpose.
An example is the "sailing ship syndrome," named after the burst of innovation in the mid-19th-century sailing-ship industry. Only after it became obvious that the steamship would dominate the commercial sailing ship did the sailing ship reach its peak of efficiency.
Faced with the challenge of steam, sailing ships reduced the average westward crossing of the Atlantic from five weeks in 1840 to three weeks in 1860. Many of the changes that made this increase in speed possible could have been made decades earlier, but it was only when faced with elimination that the motivation was present to do so.
Moral: to remain successful, sometimes we need to oppose or destroy the very things that enabled us to be successful in the first place.
Question: What previously successful assumptions can you challenge?