Three Ingredients Of Innovative Life

Infants contracted childhood leukemia. It was a terrible disease. They would bleed profusely. Doctors gave a series of powerful chemicals. One would work for a week or two and then stop. The next–same thing. And through all four known drugs.

A young doctor hired into the program to study and treat the disease. He observed and asked questions. Then he had an idea. It was so revolutionary that he was criticized for several years as an evil and stupid doctor. He said, “Why not give them all four drugs at the same time?” Take them as close to death as possible with these very toxic drugs that also, by the way, were the only known way to kill the cancer cells. Nurse them back to health. Repeat. Once a month. Every month. For 24 months.

In 1965 Dr. Emil Freireich was ostracized from the medical community for trying this. By the early 1970s it was the standard of treatment.

Malcolm Gladwell wove that story into his talk on innovation that concluded the Dell EMC conference I attended this week. He was one of two headlining speakers who are both among my favorite writers–the other being Kevin Kelly. But I only have space for one today.

We all have reason to exercise our innovation genes. Whether turning around a failing company. Or turning around a failing ministry. Or maybe just living a more fulfilling life. Here are three thoughts from Gladwell’s research.

Sense of urgency

Freireich was watching infants and children die. Every day. And he wanted a treatment–now.

Be disagreeable

OK, not in the normal sense we use it, but in the way psychologists would use it. As well as the apostle Paul. This means that we do not need the approval of others to proceed with where we’re going.

Growth mindset

When we wake up in the morning, we don’t expect the world to be exactly like it was when we went to bed. We expect some changes and deal with them.

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2 Responses to “Three Ingredients Of Innovative Life”

  1. josephruizjr Says:

    Thanks for sharing Gladwell is one of my favorite writers, speaker etc etc I teach creativity and innovation to undergraduates. I am not familiar with Kelly interested to learn more. Grace and peace

  2. Gary Mintchell Says:

    Kevin Kelly (I believe) helped found Wired magazine and was executive editor. He wrote “Out of Control”, one of my favorite books, and recently Inevitable. I’ll have more later.

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