Thomas Edison, working on improving the mechanics of the flow of paper as it moved through the telegraph, was busy recording the various dots and dashes. Work was not going well. The machine gave off a light musical rhythmic sound that resembled human talk heard indistinctly. He wanted to get rid of this sound but he couldn’t. And, over the course of the next few months, the noise continued to haunt him.
A few months later, he had a sudden thought – could that weird sound just have been hearing himself indistinctly? So, he spent the next few months studying sound. That single epiphany led to the discovery of the phonograph – thus laying the foundations for every music and record player produced since.
In studying great inventors, Robert Greene noticed their habit of processing and evaluating every idea that entered their mind. They viewed every idea as a possibility. Most led nowhere. However, some worked and they were often big ideas. Nobody could have discovered the phonograph in Edison’s time by rational thought. It needed a leap provided by chance and, luckily for us, Edison was open to it.
Like seeds flying through space, ideas require the soil of a highly prepared and open mind to take route in and sprout a meaningful idea. – Robert Greene
Source and thanks to: Mastery by Robert Greene
PS: This marks edition 125 of the 200 words project and edition 400 of weekly synthesized notes of interesting stories and ideas (the version before the 200 words project was not shared here). Here’s to 400 more..