Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"The Possibilities of a Peanut"

Hello Optimists,

We've all heard of George Washington, but how about George Washington Carver? It rings a bell, right? I must admit, I too knew the name, but knew little to nothing about the man. That doesn't really make much sense in my book, so I did a little research and found not only today's quote, but a great story behind it about a man who has truly lived by his own words. Long story short, George Washington Carver was a scientist, inventor, educator, botanist, (the list goes on) who rose out of slavery and went on to develop alternative crops to cotton, like peanuts and sweet potatoes, and the ever important crop-rotation method. Ok, so maybe being tagged as the "inventor of peanut agricultural science" doesn't sound that appealing, but stay with me here, because this gets good.

In his scientific studies he developed over three hundred different products derived from the peanut, including ink, shampoo, soap, facial cream, and many more (who knew?!) that allowed farmers to increase their sales and build a better life. His discoveries were so useful to farmers, he was invited by Thomas Edison to work at his laboratories for $100,000 per year (that's $1 million in today's money) but turned it down. He was not about the money, not about the fame. He just wanted to keep doing what he did best: improve people's quality of life.

He is noted for hosting a discussion titled "The Possibilities of a Peanut" where he laid out all of his revolutionary plans and new products he could develop. Now I don't know about you, but if I was in that audience and heard the title of this discussion, I'd be the first to head for the door. So how exactly does someone become world famous from making things out of a peanut? I believe the same man that did just that has the answer....

"When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world." 

I love this quote because it's absolutely true, and more importantly, comes from a person who has actually lived these words. And what's even better is that these words were applicable when he spoke them, they still are today, and will continue to be forever. It doesn't matter whether you're designing a new 'workout shoe' (Fit Flop, anyone?), developing a cure for cancer, or making things from peanuts. What does matter is how you go about doing it.

We all have the potential to command the attention of the world...and wouldn't that be great? But we can't do it if we just keep doing things that have been done hundreds of time before. We have to do things in a new, uncommon, inspiring way. Just look at the big G.W.C. - it seemed to work for him!

Oh, and I promise, that's the last of the history lessons for the week.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

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