Are there any products in your life that might cause you to pause, reflect…maybe even say a word or two of awe-filled thanks? Or are many of these items just too small or their use so routine that they go unnoticed, unacknowledged – even unappreciated?
In dire need of a break from the dictates of my day – especially from projects and studies – I retrieved and again browsed Malcolm Gladwell’s book David and Goliath. As with many of Gladwell’s books, this one is equally rich in ideas and concepts that stimulate and jar one’s thought process. For me to truly absorb – and shake up my way of thinking – I read, re-read and repeatedly listen. Capturing the essence – with the many nuances and possible twists and turns – demands focus. As I read and listened, I could “hear,” “see” and grasp the ideas Gladwell presents. However, it wasn’t until many hours later that real world circumstances – situations, encounters, etc. – demonstrated and allowed what he’d shared to become enlivened and real to me.
One idea passed along by Gladwell that drew my attention was a comment about products used in our daily lives – especially ones that enhance, improve or ultimately save lives. Oftentimes, these items not only go unnoticed but, they might have been created by people who may be unrecognized for their contribution, and, therefore, unknown to us.
As I slid into my car seat this morning, I paused and stared down at the seat belt as it waited to be coaxed onto its journey across my chest to align and be tugged into its slot. A passage conveyed by Mike Reynolds in Gladwell’s book resurfaced…
“Think about the guy that invented safety belts. Do you know his name? I don’t. I’ve got no clue. But think about how many guys that are safe, or people that are safe, as a result of safety belts or air bags or tamper-proof medicine containers. I could sit here and go right through it. Simple devices that are made by Joe Average, just like me, that have gone on to save numerous lives. Yet we’re not looking for any kudos, we’re not looking for any pats on the back. All we’re looking for is results, and the results are my greatest reward.”
Upon arriving home, thoughts about the seat belt – and specifically curiosity concerning its inventor – continued to maintain residence in my already crowded head-space. Wow, can you even imagine the type of world it could be – a place where average folks like you and me created simple devices that might save numerous lives; a world where results – functionality, safety, etc. – took precedence over kudos and pats on the back. I was, of course, now inspired to learn more about this tiny strap and latch that rivets me to my vehicle’s seat each day.
As a way of gaining perspective on the impact of this invention, the National Highway Safety Administration offers the following statistics:
- In 2012, the use of seat belts in passenger vehicles saved approximately 12,174 lives; and
- Between 2008 and 2012, nearly 63,000 lives have been saved.
Whether you agree or disagree with the use of seat belts, they appear to perform a vital role in our lives. Yet, as shared within Gladwell’s book, many of us (this writer included) had no idea who created or invented this particular product.
So, now I begin to wonder…
How many more products surround us – or are yet to be created – that because of one or two brave, creative spirited individuals – folks like you and me – who are willing to look (and act) in a slightly different way might be able to help get us “unstuck” from traditional mantras such as “that’s the way we’ve always done things” and allow for simple, yet practical, solutions to unfold enhance, improve – even safeguard – our lives?
Crafted, researched and written by: |LIZ CARLOCK
The Write Resources, LLC™
© 2014 EM Carlock