Thursday, July 16, 2015

Book Review: "How To Fly A Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery" by @Kevin_Ashton

One day earlier in the summer I was listening to a radio show and author Kevin Ashton was being interviewed about his book "How to Fly a Horse". I was so impressed with his thoughts that I bought the book immediately the interview was over from the Amazon Kindle Store and started to read. I'd be interested to know if there was a spike in Amazon sales of the book in Ireland during and following this interview.

Image source: Amazon.
Using many interesting examples, Ashton explores creativity and creative people. He points out that many stories of creativity follow long hard battles with trial and error before finally something is created. He cites the work of James Dyson - widely regarded as a creative genius for his work on vacuum cleaners. Dyson follows a "make, break, make, break" approach. He made 5,126 prototypes of his vacuum cleaner before he finally "created" a marketable product. Ashton believes that much creativity is not about "eureka" moments, but is the result of hard work over a long period. He also cites great instances of "creativity" by the Wight Brothers, the Coca-Cola Company, Mozart, Bach, Steve Jobs, Stephen King, Fleetwood Mac, and many more. The common thread is that creativity followed enormous amount of hard work with much trial and error.

Many people believe that only special people are creative, and that they themselves are not. I never thought of myself as creative and cannot point to a new product or service as the likes of James Dyson and Stephen King can. The message for me from Ashton's book is that anybody can be creative as long as they work hard, keep trying, and never give up. From the last page of the book:

All stories of creators tell the same truths: that creating is extraordinary but creators are human; that everything right with us can fix anything wrong with us; and that progress in not an inevitable consequence but an individual choice. Necessity is not the mother of invention. You are.


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