Lady Gaga has a preposterously popular hit single “Baby I was born this way.”
And it’s something you hear almost every single day. From excuses to excited enthusiasm people are always crediting their success, failure and particular personality as a defined trait of who they are.
But is this actually correct? Are some of us more predisposed towards creation and innovation or is it something more?
The Ever-Present Innovator
We’ve all known someone in our lives who was a never-ending treasure trove of amazing ideas and creations. Whether an uncle, spouse or sister this individual feels filled with inspirational ideas for changing the world and wildly creating products and pursues the passion to its fullest extent. From constantly creating puzzles to putting out award winning inventions so smarty pants seem to have it so easy.
But is this truth or merely illusion? Better yet…what prompted this post and search into the soul of the captive creator in the first place?
Invention and Inspiration
I started Art of the Kickstart because of a love of creation and innovation. I was mesmerized by the way crowdfunding was changing the world and wanted to help propel a wave of others forward. But it wasn’t just that.
In truth I can say some of the motivation must have come from internal ego as well. I’ve always wanted to be an inventor, someone creating the amazing products that people love and help make lives easier. I wanted to learn everything I could on how to successful create a products.
Because my two end goals ultimately intertwined it made perfect sense, build a community of knowledge around crowdfunding and innovation.
But that was not all. I did not lay idol as I interviewed some of the world’s coolest inventors and entrepreneurs. Instead I took each as motivation. Motivation not only to succeed but to learn.
If I’m going to be interviewing and consulting for these awesome creators, I should become one myself. I turned on my long dormant desires for invention.
I worked my tail off trying to create something, something I could be proud of. My inventorial spirit reared its rebellious head and I began seeing startup ideas and crowdfunding creations everywhere. These littered my notebooks, assorted writings and cluttered my home and my head.
Prototyping Products Madness
After innumerable sketches, serious amounts of ideas and eliminating the impossible I found focus on the things I enjoyed most. Ultimately my mind was made between a completely collapsible, backpack portable, adjustable standing desk and the world’s easiest bike rack.
Sketches, shortcomings and many many iterations after I was off to Home Depot(this trip would be the first of many) to find everything my garage had failed me on.
I started prototyping, testing and building things straight out of my head. It was absolutely exhilirating. With nothing more than a power saw and drill I busted my butt(literally and figuratively) working to create.
Because I’d only work about an hour a day after the gym to avoid to the added showers the sizzling summer heat of Georgia required I made slow but steady progress. I even got the point of a fully functional, absolutely unportable and impractical standing desk in the process. The semi-successful, extremely unaesthetic standing desk still stands strong about 8,800 miles away at home in States.
The Impossible Bike Rack
While I realized early on my designs for the standing desk were never really all that ideal I pursued the bicyclist’s bliss much longer.
The entire idea revolved around the extreme impracticality of most modern bike racks.
You see cyclists today and it’s always one of two inconvenient setups. Either you’ve got a permanent bike rack on top of your car or you need to hook a rear attachment on in the most cumbersome way imaginable. There isn’t much of a happy medium and heaven help the rider trapped out in the rain or without access to a bike rack.
This issue intrigued me.
Inspired by the Clug Kickstarter campaign I went about trying to create the most minimalistically effective bike rack. As a lover of magnets I was instantly overcome. Why not create an impossibly light yet incredibly strong bike base that easily attaches to your car. I was hooked.
The idea of an on-off easy solution to bike rack bred in my mind. I’d literally stumbled across an amazing invention, an idea to revolutionize biking everywhere.
I spent weeks if not months working to make this happen. A water bottle sized bike system that could carry any bike on any car, no assembly or hassle required…in my mind at least it was awesome. Imagine the possibilities.
Like all great stories(Note: this isn’t a great story) there was controversy and heartache however. It just didn’t work.
I knew I needed huge magnetic forces to make it happen. I worked out all the engineering calculations and once I was sure ordered powerful neodynium magnets(the kind which crush your fingers and shatter on impact).
Well once those arrived I went to work. I created every manner of attaching devices and setups, all in the cutout spirit of everyone’s favorite doughnut and still it fell flat.
In spite of all these failures and efforts I felt invigorated and excited. I was creating things. My hands were making something and it felt amazing. So I pushed on. I knew the idea had legs.
After many iterations and unfortunately awful attempts I was having a pretty exciting amount of success. I’d drive around my street testing the strength and viability of my model with swerves, starts and hard braking. I’d break 25mph before slamming on the brakes to make sure everything stay attached….and it did.
I thought I had conquered the impossible….I hadn’t. The real weakness came in on turns, reverse and the brutal bumps. I found this out the hard way.
One fateful day my beautiful mountain bike achieved flight. That sucker launched right off the top of my truck. It was an amazing display of stupidity and failure on my part as it gracefully flew the six feet off the rapidly turning vehicle and collapsed upon the hard concrete.
Yeah. I screwed up pedals, gears and brakes pretty good.
Is Invention a Mindset or Way of Life?
I managed to fix it and keep testing but time was now an enemy.
I believe everyone should live as if they could die tomorrow. It’s important not to put off life in the pursuit of something else.
This mindset drove me to Thailand and to live the life of a semi-nomadic digital entrepreneur. I couldn’t stay trapped at my parents, cut off from the real wealth of experiences the world had to offer. Even though it meant pausing my efforts at the world’s greatest car rack it was a decision I had to make.
I love the creativity and self-expression working with my hands, brainstorming products and pushing the envelope gave me but it wasn’t enough. Ultimately my desire to see the world and start living overcame even my most internal product passions.
What does that mean? I don’t know but since arriving in Thailand a little over three weeks ago I haven’t once worked out a design or sketched an innovative idea.
Instead I’ve explored the world, worked as a consultant, interview futuristic founders and been uncommonly content.
For me this raises an interesting question. Do we grow up inventors or decide to become one?
I would love for you to chime in and share some insight. I really, truly do not know.
While I believe a propensity, passion and incredible work ethic are almost always needed to make amazing ideas I’d love to hear your experiences.