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Saturday, February 05, 2005

Innovators Keep Reaching

In a bizarre assortment of news items I happened to skim today, I found a couple of great little pieces - one about Einstein's successes and failures, and the other, a news release about Brian Wilson's successful and long overdue album, SMiLE.

These two stories seem quite unrelated on the surface, but the more I deliberated the reasons the stories spoke to me, the more I realized how important the underlying message is in both of these men's lives: They had/have Vision in its truest sense.

Without getting into Wilson's highly publicized idiosyncrasies, the more relevant message here is that of re-invention, forgiveness, and vision.

He laughs heartily just musing about his new rock tunes, yet his eyes can turn to shadows quickly. Wilson has long received treatment for mental illness, and he says he still battles mood swings.

"SMiLE" was scrapped in 1967 as Wilson neared a mental breakdown. Drugs, pressure from the other Beach Boys -- especially his cousin Mike Love -- and Wilson's weak mental state doomed the project. Though the album was shelved, a few original "SMiLE" tracks -- "Wonderful," "Heroes and Villains" and "Surf's Up" -- found their way onto subsequent Beach Boys releases.

"People are much more ready for 'SMiLE' today," Wilson says. "It was ahead of its time. I'm glad I waited. Now it's finally time." more...
Brian Wilson is an example of someone who had great vision, yet lacked the internal strength to deal with the critics or those who simply did not "get it or him." His emotional conditions rendered him lifeless until his recent reawakening.

On the other hand, Albert Einstein achieved acclaim in a starburst. He entered the scene at a time when scientists rarely questioned world politics and steered clear of controversy. But he was neither timid nor afraid of challenging ethics in science.

Despite his success with his theory of relativity, he did not stop to hang his hat on an accomplishment that warranted early retirement. Rather he continued on in his quest to pursue that which drove him.
But there are other reasons - going beyond science - why the "old" Einstein has such wide cultural resonance. Despite the failure of his unified theory, his fame gave him influence on public affairs. When the nuclear threat first loomed over us, he was an inspiration and moral compass to other scientists. Back in 1955, just a week before he died, he co-signed, with Bertrand Russell, a manifesto that launched the Pugwash conferences, an international forum for scientific discussions on disarmament and world affairs. more...

The common denominator here is clarity of vision and purpose.

These men, in separate and unique ways, have the ability to inspire us - to ask why we are not paying close attention to our own Vision, whatever that may be.

Have you reached a level of comfort that has made you lose touch with your Vision? Or have you paid so much attention to the critics, you've let internal demons or outside pressures drown you?

The person who can reinvent his/herself and emerge fresh from the obstacles inspires me. There is nothing truer than your Vision, that visceral urge that drives you forward.

What keeps you from following the call? How do you apply the spirit of innovation to your work?


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