Will Smith
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Myelin, Will Smith, Ronaldinho & Innovation

What The Heck Is Myelin?

So, I just finished The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle, where he writes about a substance called Myelin. For those of you who are not neurosurgeons, Myelin is like insulation for neurons. It is a fatty substance which, over time, wraps itself around the length of neurons which are most frequently used by the body. The more frequently you use a certain neural pathway, the more insulation you get, the quicker the message is sent from the brain, the quicker and better you become…cool, huh?

Myelin builds up through sharp, focused, high-quality practice. We see this in the habits of high-performing groups, many of whom build their skills through a combination of short, sharp sessions and lots of restorative rest.

Take a look at the football player Ronaldinho as a child playing Futsal, below. Futsal is a high-intensity form of 5-a-side in a small confined area.


Of course, Ronaldinho had passion for football in the first place, but his talent was honed through hours of practice, generating thicker coils of Myelin around his neurons, enabling him to evade defenders at close quarters with very fast feet.

When a young Ronaldinho took his talents onto the larger 11-a-side pitch, the opposition, who had grown up playing on traditional pitches at an almost sedentary pace, did not stand a chance.

Will’s Wisdom

So, Will Smith is right when he says;

Greatness is not this wonderful, esoteric, elusive, god-like feature that only the special among us will ever taste – you know, it’s something that truly exists in all of us’. 

In other words, put in the work – practice makes perfect. It starts with passion and becomes a talent once honed.

How does this apply to creativity and innovation? Well, when Einstein’s brain was examined after his death they found huge amounts of Myelin wrapped around regions of the brain responsible for incorporating and synthesising information.

If At First You Don’t Succeed…

Innovation comes from synthesising information, observing human behaviour when trying to accomplish a task (be that anything from buying an airline ticket online, to making a cup of coffee) and then linking two distant points of reference to create something new, to meet those behaviours (see Fi and Instant Hot Coffee in a cup) . The more you try to link distant things to form something new, the easier ideas and innovation seem to come.

We have loads of creative Myelin. We work with organisations to create new ideas we can turn into the brands, products and services of tomorrow. Take a look at Eden’s Paper as an example.

Got loads of ideas for your business but not enough resource to drive them to market? Then contact us!

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Icarus Has Fallen: No Pain, No Gain

Icarus: No pain, no gain

In a previous post I wrote about pain. That without it, there is no progress. In other words: “no pain, no gain”.

I am currently reading Seth Godin’s book ‘The Icarus Deception’. Buy it. In the book, Seth writes that there is no pain-free way to achieve your goals, be that speaking on a commercial level, or a personal one:

Ideas are not enough without commitment. They are not enough because strategy is empty without change, empty without passion, and empty without people willing to confront the void.

We all know the story of Icarus. Icarus’ father was a brilliant engineer. He had been banished to prison for sabotaging the work of King Minos.

His father hatched a plan to escape prison and fashioned two sets of wings, so he and Icarus could fly beyond the prison walls to freedom.

Icarus was told by his father not to fly too close to the sun as the wax binding his wings together would melt. He disobeyed his father and we all know what happened next: The wax melted, and Icarus tumbled to the sea and died.

The intended lessons of this myth: don’t try to reach your loftiest goals too quickly, because you might burn out ; and (2) always listen to your parents, especially in situations involving wax wings and celestial bodies.

The –in our eyes — vital part of the myth that has been glossed over is that Icarus’ father also told him not to fly too low, as the sea would ruin his lift and he would also fall to the sea.

We are all willing to sit quietly in meetings, to not offer up an opinion, to not stand out. That is normal. Society has taught us about the dangers of standing up. So we stay low to the ground, sit at the back of the room in complete safety.

We are so obsessed with the risk of flying high that we have traded everything in to avoid it, settling for low expectations and small dreams and a guarantee of less than we are capable of, all because we are afraid of falling – S.Godin.

If history teaches us anything, it is that the future belongs to those who are willing to leap in order to fly. So commit to the frightening work of flying blind, of taking a stand and of turning an idea into something new. Don’t and nothing will happen at all.

We are really lucky to work with organisations who are all looking to grow through innovation and committing to ideas. Some ideas may fail, but none of the clients we work for are standing still or flying low. They are willing to push forward into unchartered territory, and if they do fall then we learn from it. Eventually they will fly though, and keep on flying.

Made it this far? Why not contact us?

We work with organisations looking to develop new ideas which can help them grow – whether it’s exploring a new market or a completely new brand, product or service. Get in contact with us by emailing me at nik@beaf.com or by calling 01242 715 483.