Want to be more innovative? Don’t watch the news.
After a few minutes of tears on Friday, I decided that watching sensationalized news for more than a few seconds violates my commitment to remain boyishly optimistic. My decision was reinforced over the weekend. Every time I surfed past a news channel, I immediately felt the optimism being sucked out of me. Bickering politicians arguing about metaphoric cliffs, sordid details of kids being gunned down, and smarty-pants journalists deeply committed to forcing each and every issue under the left and right lens threatened to squash the ideals of the most committed optimists.Enough.
Einstein said, “The most important decision a man will ever make is whether he lives in a friendly universe.”
Since I spend my days with people committed to changing the world, I can tell you that Einstein’s words are fundamental to entrepreneurship and innovation. Great leaders believe they live in a friendly universe. They believe the world is conspiring to make it successful. What about you? If not, perhaps you’re watching too much news.
Years ago, I heard a wonderful story about two shoe salesmen. As the story goes, they were both sent to a third world country—at the time, probably China—to sell shoes. After a couple of weeks, the sales manager calls the first salesperson and asks for a progress report. “It’s terrible over here. Nobody wears shoes!” reports salesperson number one.
But the second salesperson’s report is completely different. He says, “It is unbelievable over here. Everybody NEEDS shoes!”
People who believe they live in a friendly universe are looking for opportunity at every turn. People who believe they live in an unfriendly universe look to be persecuted. They live in fear, and fear is the enemy of creativity.
There is goodness all around if you are looking for it. You may notice that people are living almost twice as long as they did 200 years ago. You may notice that there are tens of millions of children being equipped with education and information never before available to them. You may notice the power and availability of technology to change the world—for good or evil, depending on the lens we choose to create.
This is not a media-bashing piece. News directors have made a choice that is totally understandable in our capitalistic system. They want to attract as many people as they can so they can get the most money possible for the commercials that run within their broadcasts. And so, as every young reporter is told from day one, “if it bleeds, it leads,” meaning the bigger the tragedy the bigger play the story will receive.
I understand their choice. I simply think it is wrong. More important, I am aware of the negative effect it has on my friends and me. And so, with this awareness comes choice; and I choose to ride the remote when misery makes money.
Here’s a question I’d like to end with. Is our media helping to create a country of optimistic believers or fearful nonbelievers?
I think you can answer that question with another. Would you let your 7-year-old watch the news? If the answer is “no,” then perhaps you should opt out for the same reason.
We need people who believe that they can change the world. At age seven, I bet you thought you could change the world. I’ve got news for you. You still can.
Source: Forbes (Mike Maddock, Contributor)