Stony Brook University

New Tech Blog: Max On Media
Max On Media is a technology-based blog written by Burke Liburt. Burke Liburt is the co-founder and CMO of SynchroPET, a biomedical device company that has licensed patented nuclear imaging technologies from Brookhaven National Laboratories. He has developed marketing strategies at television groups (Dun & Bradstreet/ ABC Television) and at his own multi-media company. Read Max On Media Now!
Stony Brook Innovation Center Blog

Will and Skill

Jun 15 2015

The most helpful topic for an Innovation Center blog would seem to be examining whether innovativeness can be instilled in people the way installing computer programs enables us to do different things, and if so, how is it downloaded, or learned?  Is there a single Skill Set underpinning all the other attributes that are identifiable in the majority of innovators, short of the few savants floating around, and even there?  Do innovations like the light bulb and Internet arise out of nowhere, or evolve as species do: putting similar things together again and again, and how is that done? 

Others, I am not the first,
                Have willed more mischief than the durst:
                If in the breathless night I too
                Shiver now, ‘tis nothing new.

                                                            A.E. Housman 


D’ ya happen to catch the NBA Finals, which have been the most interesting since the glory years of the Celtics / Lakers rivalry that were capped by the superhero matchup of Magic and Bird.  As Louis Armstrong said of jazz, if you have to ask who they were, you’d never understand.  You’re from another planet.  Barishnikov Who?  Bellow What?  The poem, with which the previous post began, comes to mind again: 

                Near the snow, near the sun, in the highest fields,
See how these names are fêted by the waving grass
And by the streamers of white cloud
And whispers of wind in the listening sky.
The names of those who in their lives fought for life,
Who wore at their hearts the fire’s centre.
Born of the sun, they travelled a short while toward the sun
And left the vivid air signed with their honour.

People don’t read Homer because they’re into war stories, nor do you have to be a boxing fan to appreciate the legendary Ali / Frazier contests as such, any more than Jewish to love Levy’s rye bread, as the saying goes.  They are—or were—tests of Will and Skill.  Ali was so phenomenally skilled, his will wasn’t as readily apparent as that of opponents, who relied more on brute force. 
Likewise, for all LeBron James’ similarly almost Beyond Belief skills, pirhouetting his 265 lbs.around players and laying the ball in off the backboard with touch taking into account all that inertia, you can visibly see King James’, as he’s known, sheer mental forcefulness magnifying his more dominant physical force than perhaps any athlete, besides Ali, since the legendary fullback Jim Brown carried a team to a championship in the same cow town; whereas his nemesis, Stephen Curry, seems to move around and toss the ball at the basket almost indifferently, as though some other power has the ball seemingly attached to his hands on an invisible string while dribbling it back and forth behind his back to an extent that no one has ever seen before, and guiding it into the basket for him.
The main thrust of all the posts throughout this blog, The Lesson Within the Lessons, as I like to call it, about various facets of The Uniform Structure of Information, on which I focus in each post, is learning how to apply everything you ever learned or experienced to everything else coming at you, using what you know to understand what you don’t, in a heartbeat, the way All of the Above do, to meet the challenges that every contest presents.
In that same vein, my readers may recall mention of something from a giant in the field of industrial psychology, Chris Argyis: “People don’t talk about what they see; they see only what they can communicate.”  Let’s look at that wisdom in a new light, applied to the matter at hand, the way scientists, artists, and yes, even athletes pull new tricks out of old bags, like Ali’s famous rope-a-dope. 
If people only see what they can communicate, does it not stand to reason that we also can only will what we have the skills to fulfill?  Your very will to accomplish what you have in mind to do—the fortitude and courage to sustain The Road Not Taken (discussed in the previous post) is determined by your business acumen and ability to pull off what that reveals happen.  Beethoven and Eric Clapton alike can only compose what they can play.  Athletes and business people, similarly, are only able to exert their will upon other people to the degree that their intelectual, emotional, spiritual, and tangible skills can be brought to bear on the matter at hand.  Since how well we learn and communicate are the two principle tools used in business, your skill with them determines your ability to exert your will as much as specific business skills, and in large part at the very least influences your business acumen, as well.  How else can you learn from others, or think things through with them?

Whatever discipline non-business major readers pursue, the same holds true, plus that because everything—even pure science or art—is a business, in that regard.  Egos get in the way and all kinds of cockamaimy favoritism hold sway in those highest circles, the same as they do in playgrounds the woild over.  Of course, you can do what you please for the joy of doing it alone, and not give a fig whether it ever gets known, or trust that truth and beauty will find its day, come what may, the way Samuel Pepys stuck his diary on a shelf in a library to enjoy his immortality in his immortality, and Van Gogh wailed away on 700 canvases in ten years, to no avail, which you could probably swap just a few of for the Empire State Building nowadays. 
In virtually every buried treasure tale, the tomb in which it lies, waiting to be discovered, is strewn with remains of those who found it, but were unable to bring it to light.  Who knows?  Perhaps if it weren’t for Gertrude Stein’s knowing eye, who studied psychology under William James for all but the last three weeks of his doctoral program, and was probably more attuned to the neurological effects of art than any art collector or critic who ever lived, which Van Gogh’s paintings made more explicit than any artist who ever lived (along with more or less equally nutty William Blake) we might not have known of Van Gogh’s works to this day.
That doesn’t take anything away from his achievement or the others like Emily Dickinson and Who Knows how many truly great innovations, shall we say, yet to be uncovered, except insofar as they are or were cut off from the joy of moving other living, breathing, feeling people as they were moved to créate what they did, and bettering their lives in Who Knows how many ways, but on the other hand, for all the rest of us mere mortals know, the serenity of minds working at that level, who are able to breathe life into blank pieces of paper or canvas and the like, is beyond caring about trifles like knowing that other people have.received their gifts to mankind.

Stony Brook University Innovation Center, Stony Brook, NY 11794-3775

Phone: 631.632.7171
Fax: 631.632.8181