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The Improving Mindset

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InventionofCopperPlateEngraving
The Invention of Copper Plate Engraving (Source: Wikimedia.org)
We find what we’re looking for. This is a consistently under-appreciated truth, one that applies to so many of life’s circumstances. I admit that some searches take longer than others, but our minds are like unrelenting bloodhounds. They have a powerful ability to find evidence, insights, or ideas once they’re trained on a goal. Whatever we’re intent on seeing—the good or the bad in anything or anyone—we’ll be sure that, in the end, it’s all we see.

Hence the need to train our minds to look for the right kinds of things. Here’s one approach that’s worth your while. Historian Anton Howes (upcoming guest of the How to Help Podcast) shares a fascinating discovery about the British Industrial Revolution. It turns out that all the inventors during that time, thousands of them, had a high likelihood of having been connected to other inventors. These innovators were not toiling away in isolation towards their Eureka! moment. Instead, they were rubbing shoulders and sharing ideas.

In the process they shared something more, something Dr. Howes calls “the improving mentality.” I love this concept. It’s the perspective that something can always be made better, even if in some small way. An improving mentality is a universal perspective for innovators. And its illumination spills into every dusty corner of life, revealing small tweaks or momentous inventions that are sometimes hiding in plain sight.

Since my interview with Dr. Howes—publishing on July 5—I’ve thought often of the improving mentality. There are so many moments of our daily routine that have room for some new, better way. It’s an eye-opening perspective, one that we ought to spread as much as we can. In the spirit of that, Dr. Howes and a coauthor have recently proposed a new chivalric order, just for innovators. (An idea I would love to copy here in the U.S.)

I’ll have other insights by Dr. Howes to share in future newsletters, but in the meantime I’ll close with this question:

What’s something in your everyday that could be improved with a better way of thinking?

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