In my last article, “How to Thrive When the Rest of the World Sucks,” I talked about the horrible destructive power of negativity and the life-changing, success-bringing power of positivity, confidence, and a strong sense of self-identity.
If you haven’t read that article, shame on you. Go back and read it.
Today, we’re going to talk about an even more powerful subject. Today, we’re going to talk about a universe-rending, world-shifting concept.
Today, we’re going to talk about…Silly Putty.
What is Silly Putty?
Silly Putty is the result of a failed experiment sponsored by the government in World War II. The purpose of the experiment was to find an alternative to rubber, which was in extremely high demand because of the war.
It didn’t work so well.
It has some of the properties of rubber in that it bounces and it’s waterproof, but it doesn’t hold its shape very well and it isn’t as tough as rubber. What a waste, right? What use could there possibly be for a lump of pink goo?
In 1949, Silly Putty was featured in a toy store catalog as “bouncing putty.”
It outsold every other item in the catalogue but crayons.
Since then, Silly Putty has been enjoyed by millions of children, selling little globs of the stretchy goo in plastic eggs at an average of 2 million a year.
And that’s not all. Physical therapists and surgeons have begun to use it to help patients rehabilitate and relieve stress. They’re even working on a “bone putty” that can temporarily replace missing bone in shatter injuries, encouraging natural bone to grow back to take its place.
Not cool enough? How about this:
In 1968, Silly Putty reached the moon, courtesy of the Apollo 8 astronauts, who used the handy pseudo-adhesive to secure their tools in zero gravity.
Not bad for a failed experiment, eh?
Failure is the First Stage of Victory
Failure comes from many things: bad timing, poor planning, and lack of education, experience or skill. Not surprisingly enough, sometimes it’s brought about through the direct actions of competitors and enemies.
Most commonly though? We do it to ourselves.
Several years after Silly Putty utterly failed its intended design purpose, it reached a toy store owner named Ruth Fallgatter, who had the vision to market it as “bouncing putty.” Ruth didn’t see a failure. She saw an untapped opportunity. Silly Putty was non-toxic, didn’t stick to carpet or clothes, it was cheap to manufacture, and it was fun.
Because of her vision, Silly Putty is now a household name with international product sales and diverse applications. Just a tiny lump of pink goo.
It’s never too late to start learning from mistakes we’ve made in the past. In fact, it’s probably not too late to turn a few of those babies into victory. Here’s how:
Don’t Be a Sissy
No one likes to fail. What’s the number one reason why? We’re afraid of losing the esteem of the communities we live in and the people we love and admire.
But here’s a question for you:
Who does the crowd cheer for in a movie? The guy who wins everything, or the guy who fails a dozen times and then rises up (to a power ballad, of course), overcomes all opposition, and conquers the HELL out of his or her goal?
You can be that person…but it’s going to takes guts, persistence, and creativity.
Make Failure Silly
I like lists, so we’re going to do one right quick.
Make a list of 3 recent failures you’ve experienced. It can be at work, at home, in a relationship…whatever.
Now, next to each one, write down 5 of the silliest, most ridiculous, laughable, ludicrous solutions to those problems you can concept.
After you’ve finished your list, walk away for a few hours, come back and look it over.
Go ahead and do yours. I can wait.
Welcome back! Now that you’ve had a few hours to let it marinate, have a second look at your list. 9 times out of 10, they won’t look so silly the second time around.
Weird, huh? Want to know why?
It’s because as we get older, we begin to see the ramifications and repercussions of our actions. We feel the sting of rejection, the heat of embarrassment. After a while, we start censoring ourselves because we’re afraid of those things, and as you should know by now, fear is the great killer of creativity.
When you create an environment where you feel safe to explore and play without fear of humiliation or rejection, you can come up with some really cool stuff. Get in the ritual of doing this exercise in some form or another. You’ll be surprised how much success you can create for yourself with such a simple and yes, silly, tool.
That’s it for today, gang. I’m in need of some silly time, myself.
What’s your silly success story? Take a moment to share, and comment below.
Feeling stumped? Give us a call at 918-518-6576. We can help: We’re silly for a living.