The best way to look at inventing

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I never joined this club but now I wish I had…

I’ve always liked the idea of being an inventor. Not the traditional crazy one with white hair in all different directions, but just someone who creates things. I think we’re made to create.

Yesterday I was watching a show called Tom’s Fantastic Floating Home which sounds like a ridiculous kid’s tale akin to Up. Turns out it’s about an inventor called Tom who wants to make an old boat come back to life and cover it with lots of inventions.

It’s full of heart-warming moments with him and his son, talking about what they want to do and seeing a young child’s excitement as the inventions become a reality. But it’s also interesting to see how happy and awe-struck Tom is with his own inventions. It’s not an arrogant kind of awe-struck, more of a “woah! Isn’t that cool?!” kind.

Toms home

The first episode sees Tom create a 360 degree surveillance camera, hydroponic plant waterers (I’ve watched the programme and I’m still not sure what hydroponic means) and a terrible looking armadillo tent.

The armadillo tent is interesting because it looks awful and seems pretty inconvenient, particularly if you got some mean cross-winds, but he loves it. And he repeatedly says so. He just seems infatuated by this ugly structure.

Why?

Because it solves a problem.

Armadillo tent

He spoke to his son about what his son wanted from the boat. Apparently, he liked the idea of an inside-outside house, where one moment you’re inside and the next you’re outside, and so Tom went about trying to make this happen. He came up with the armadillo tent.

He even says so himself: it’s not about creating something new but solving a problem.

Which is definitely the best way to look at inventing things! It means you don’t get caught up thinking about pointless problems which no-one needed you to solve, but you solve the problems which are actually important. Like: “How do I live in an inside-outside house?!”

I think this is what makes Tom so amazed by his inventions, the obstacle in his way has now been overcome.

In the show he para-phrases the original Thomas Edison quote:

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Which is so encouraging.

If you fail, why give up? Because there’s a chance you might not do it? You might not make it? But how will you know unless you try?

And maybe you didn’t succeed that time, but how do you know you won’t succeed the next? Since when were the most joyful things easy to obtain? What are you proud of? Why are you proud of it? Was it because you were given a freebie? Probably not!

Try and fail because then, at least you tried.

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