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TEDxWarsaw - Patrick Trompiz - 3/5/10

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Hi everyone. So everyone's come here today to hear about great ideas. You've heard-- You've come here today to share in the enthusiasm of great ideas. But I want you to ask yourselves now, what a great idea is? Great ideas, where do they come from? Something that every trainer knows, I've been working for a long time as a trainer, is that ideas can be approached from two aspects, from two perspectives. One is the so-called hard aspect, another is the so-called soft aspect. Soft aspect of a problem is great ideas, creativity, innovation. Big exciting concepts that are our goal. Sometimes however, they're a little vague. And that's why we need hard concepts. Things that we can help us break an idea down into smaller parts, into learnable fragments, so that we can teach. I'm going to break down the idea of great ideas into parts that we can measure. So first I'm going to present five measures of a great idea. And when you think about your ideas or the ideas that you've heard today, think about how how great those ideas are according to these measures. Ok, here's the first measure: The historical measure. How long is your idea going to last? How long is the great idea you've thought about, how long did it last in the past? The great idea lasts a long time, partly because it can prove it's usefullness in different contexts, in a variety of different cultural contexts, a variety of different climates, different institutions, different nations, different languages. Another aspect of a great idea, it sometimes is so deep that it takes a long time for us to fully appreciate, to fully understand it. Look at vaccinations. They've been with us for just over a 100 years. So that's a great idea. It's helped a lot of people. It's got proven value in different contexts. Take the system of medicine of Gallium. You might not have heard of that. That dominated in Europe for 1,500 years. You might not know much about it, I don't know very much about it, it must've been a great idea. If it dominated medicine in a continent for 1,5 millenia. Take Chinese medicine, undergoing a reneissance today. That's been with us for 2000 years. That's an even greater idea according to this measure. Take Ayurvedic medicine. That's been with us for 3,000 to 4,000 years. So again, that's the greatest idea according to this measure. Now, another question to you directly, think about an idea of yours. It could be an idea about your-- plans for your family, it could be a plan for your home, for your car, for your retirement. It could be an idea about research you're working on. How long is it going to last? How big are your ideas? How ambitious are you? Often we criticize ambitious people, because they're greedy, they want too much. But really, I think, the problem with ambitious people is that they want too little. They want a car, they want a home, they want some portion of money. It could be a million dollars. So what? Is that really a big idea? Think now about humanitarian projects. Think about the ecological movement for example. Their people are concerned about what is going to happen with the planet in 5,000 years. You know, 1000, 5000 years, 5 million years. So that's a big idea. That's a great idea. That's real ambition. If you're a scientist, you know, is your idea going to be read in 100 years, or in 1000 years or 2000 years? Okay. Next measure: The political measure. How revolutionary is your idea? Does it change people's perspective? This isn't quite as numerical, it's not as hard a concept, as the historical measure. But on the other hand, it's pretty empirical. You've been listening to various ideas today, there would've been moments when you could've thought, "Huh, there's something in that," or, "I never thought of it like that. I need to listen to that. That's a different perspective. So this is a, kind of a revolution is taking place, yea? Political measure. Cash measure: How much is your idea worth? You take your idea, you need to do a little bit of work, you need to turn it into a company, into a design, into a patent, into a contract, into a logo, and then auditors, market experts will measure the value of that idea for you. It's very numerical, you might think it's a bit populist. You might think that fast food for example, according to this measure, is a very great idea. Okay? A lot of people, a lot of money all over the world. You might think that that makes it a very bad idea. However, not to be too populist, we should also not be too snobby about it, if this idea is making so much money all over the world, it must be doing good for somebody. Somebody must be "loving it." (laughter) I'm loving it, when I'm stuck in the middle of nowhere and it's, you know, everyone knows this experience, right? It's the only toilet open at 7 a.m., right? So that brings us to a less cynical measure: The humanitarian measure. How many lives has your idea affected? How many people has it affected? If your idea has changed even one person's life, then surely it's a great idea. If your idea has saved one person's life, surely it's a great idea. This measure is also very numerical. It's very hard. Easy to measure the results. So ask yourself: Are your ideas going to impact people's lives? How many people's lives? Finally, we've got a slightly more original measure: the invisibility measure. You're all sitting on chairs. Is a chair a good idea? You know, it's a comfortable idea. Chair has a special feature, you know, as an idea, that it's gone into our reality so smoothly, that we almost don't notice it as an idea anymore. This is a feature of a very good idea. Sometimes they don't last very long as ideas, they quickly become part of, literally, the furniture of our universe. The invisibility measure. Something is such a good idea, it fits our reality so well, that it becomes a part of that reality almost instantaneously. Now I'd like to take a look at two soft aspects of great ideas. One is, originality, another is, lateral thinking. Is a great idea an original idea? Let's take the organization that I'm here representing, The Art of Living foundation. What we do, on the one hand we provide training programs: stress management programs, personal development programs, for people who are in a comfortable material situation. It could be executives, it could be students. It could be regular people, could be kids, could be teenagers. On the other hand, we provide programs which are humanitarian: stress relief programs, material-based programs, for people who are in a dire material situation. One good idea, to have noticed, that people in boardrooms are in a similar frame of mind often to people after natural disasters. That's one good idea. Second good idea: We charge money for people to participate in programs when they can afford it, when they're in wealthy countries, but instead like a company, acquiring profit, we try and transfer the money to humanitarian projects. That's another good idea. Is it an original idea? No. Robing Hood used to do that, right? In Poland, Janosik, yea? So not necessarily an original idea. But we've upgraded it, institutionalized it, yea? Robin Hoods of the 20th century. Another aspect of great ideas and brilliant thinkers, is the capacity to engage in lateral thinking. What does that mean? You look at a problem, you look at a situation, and you turn it sideways, you take a step back. All the things that everybody else is taking for granted, you notice, you observe. So everyone is using concepts, using ideas, they're in the thick of it. They're coming up sometimes with clever solutions, but a brilliant person takes a step back and makes you aware of things that, you know, the others are just taking for granted. Chair might be an example. You might, after I've mentioned chairs, I didn't ask you if it's a great idea, you might say: "Okay, it's not good for posture as it turns out." Right? Many people in the world don't sit on chairs. Maybe if we do some research, we'll find out that their spines are in better condition. Yea? So, lateral thinking. Maybe we should dump the chairs? We should sit on the floor? Or work on some orthopedic version. Okay, that's lateral thinking. Now there's a technique to develop your capacity to do more lateral thinking. To be aware of those things that everyone else is just taking for granted. This technique is very old, it's a very old and great idea by historical measure. It's called, meditation. And so what I'd like to do now, is to do something maybe a little brave for some of you. Just, everyone, close their eyes and we'll do like 4, 5 minutes meditation. And if you feel a little uncomfortable, or awkward, or this is a bit new, just remember that one feature of great ideas is that braveness intrepid quality, to be ready to do something a little different. So, everyone, close your eyes. Just for 2 or 3 minutes. Jak ktoś do tej pory udawał, że rozumie mój angielski to: proszę zamknąć oczy. (laughter, applause) So, close your eyes. Take a deep breath in, and breathe out. One more breath in, and out. Become aware of all the noises in this environment. There's a machine buzzing in the background, you could hear people's breath. Just take your attention to that. Now become aware of your body. You're sitting on a chair, the chair is carrying the weight of your body. Just become aware of that fact, a simple every-day fact. Take a deep breath in, and out. And become aware of your breath. Breath is passing in and out of your body. And it's keeping your body alive. Now take your attention to your thoughts. What thoughts appear in your mind? Whether they're good, bad, doesn't matter. Just take your attention to your thoughts. Now take your attention to your feelings. Again to your thoughts. Take a deep breath in, and out. And become aware of your body, and your surroundings. And slowly open your eyes. This is to give you the first clue to great ideas, to ingenious ideas. What is a brilliant idea? It some way comes out of nothing. There was a time when there were no airplanes. There was a time when no-one had even thought about and airplane. And then there appeared that thought. Then there appeared planes. So something, in some sense, has come out of nothing. How is this reflected in the mind? The mind of a person coming up with a very brilliant idea, with a very new perspective, is often very calm. Clever ideas often come out in the mix, in the middle of everything. But brilliant ideas, revolutionary ideas, often come when the mind is very calm. Many geniouses have had great ideas just as they were falling asleep or just as waking up in the morning. Mind is a little calmer then. Heartbeat is a little slower. So that's one aspect. Calm mind, relax. Second aspect, almost the opposite: 99 percent perspiration, yea? 1 percent inspiration. 10 years of commited work. It almost never happens that an ingenious idea comes out of less. If want to think about it, a very beautiful example is Mozart. And that was one of the greatest prodigies. Right? Even when he was 3 or 4, he was already writing music, right? Playing music, wrighting music. However, if you look at the pieces he wrote from the age of 3 througt to 13, 14, you'll find that those are not the pieces that entered the cannon. Those are not the pieces that have become a part of the repertoire. It is only when he reached age 13, 14, that he started to write masterpieces, works that entered the cannon, works that changed the history of music. So even Mozart, 10 years of commited work. So 10 years of commited work, and relax. (laughter, applause) Thank you

Video Details

Duration: 16 minutes and 40 seconds
Country: Poland
Language: English
Genre: None
Producer: TEDxWarsaw
Director: TEDxWarsaw
Views: 111
Posted by: tedxwarsaw on Mar 15, 2010

Patrick Trompiz read Mathematics and Philosophy at Oxford before taking up his Philosophy PhD in Poland, undeterred by the fact that he had to learn Polish first. His TEDxWarsaw talk centered on where good ideas really come from.

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