Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Playing May Be Your Best Bet To Make History

It’s widely believed that inventions appear when people have a need for something that doesn’t yet exist. 

Which means that a new invention roughly follows a process like this:

People are upset with the current state of technology. A number of smart individuals see an opportunity to make money and take on the challenge. One or several inventions are made. Finally people adopt the invention they like most.

And it’s true. Many inventions support this common sense view that necessity is the mother of invention.

The atom bomb was invented out of fear that Nazi Germany would build it first. Vaccines were made to defeat disease. Braille gave the blind a way to read. And we flew a rocketship to the moon because we thought it would help us win the Cold War.

But a far greater amount of technological breakthroughs came from trivial pastimes without an agenda. Happy accidents created by curiosity and a love for tinkering.

Only years after their invention did people slowly come to feel they ‘needed’ them.

The Wright brothers invented the airplane at a time where almost everyone believed that flying machines were nothing more than a fantasy.

So when the Wrights started their work on the airplane it was deemed impossible. And when people finally saw the Wrights soar through the sky everyone thought it was a magic trick.

The first car was an amazing feat of engineering, but it was made with no other purpose than to entertain the rich. It wasn’t until Henry Ford’s factories started churning out tin Lizzies a century later that everyone wanted a car.

And for a long time Thomas Edison thought the phonograph had no commercial value. When others did eventually see the value in his invention and used his phonograph to play music, Edison was outraged because it was being used for something other than he intended.

Which all goes to show that noodling around with your own projects can lead to world-changing inventions.

A narrative that’s often overlooked, because purposely tackling society’s biggest problems makes for a much cooler story. Plus, you’ll be taken much more seriously by trying to cure cancer than working on a plywood box that can capture moving images (the first television).

Don’t let pressing issues fool you into thinking you can’t play around. It may be your best bet to make history.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach