Wednesday, February 07, 2007

creativity and innovation

Let’s see how you will deal with your life if you are:

• A chemist who has come up with a formula of an adhesive that did not give justification to its name since it did not stick well.

• A beauty pageant contestant who fell on stage during the preliminary portion of the competition.

• A child who worried his parents because of his language delay and his lack of fluency until he was nine years old.

I am not privy to what your response to these situations is, but I am certain that I’ll earn your nod in seeing a common denominator among these situations: failure.

In one way or another, we have all experienced failure. Think. It need not be something universal like the situations I presented above. It may just be getting a failing mark in one of your major exams, or parting ways with your sweetheart whom you still love, or losing in a preliminary audition in a reality show.

For many of us, failure signifies not only disappointment for it may mean the end of almost everything. It denotes dead end. It means death.

However, failure may “kill” us but these Bosconian core values allow us to bounce back and live life anew: creativity and innovativeness.

Creativity and Innovation

Creativity and innovation is one of the five Bosconian core values (the other four being religion, concern for the poor, networking, and care for the environment) we normally recite at the end of the Angelus during the weekly EPC assembly. They may be entirely two different things, but in the context of our institution, we consider them a team. One complements the other. These two enrich and make our life more colourful, if not utterly meaningful.

Creativity may mean a host of things—artistic, imaginative, and clever—but if we are to dissect the word, what we’ll have is the root word “create.” Thus, creativity leads us into bringing something into being!

In the previous issue of Signbearer, Br. Jun Binueza, SDB, in his article, described innovation as “friendship with the times.” This term reminds me of the challenge of John Dewey, a progressivist thinker, who believed that change is inevitable, and we should not only wait for it to come, but to welcome it.

Innovators are those who don’t only think of new ideas but more importantly, they are courageous enough in showing other people how their ideas and beliefs defined their life even if the rest of the world contradicts them.

Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, and Ka Pepe Diokno come into my mind as they creatively advocated for a change in a corrupt system using the non-violence means. All of them fought for what they believed in. Pessimists would have it that they all failed since they have not succeeded in advancing their own cause (color and racial discrimination for Luther and Gandhi while democracy restoration for Diokno), that we still confront these issues even at this present age, but still, they remained vigilant as ever. Now, all of them are dead. But their principles live on. Their fight is an unfinished one. It is being continued by those who are concerned and those who believe that we can achieve heaven on earth.

Bosconians—young men and women alike—are challenged to become creative innovators. We are challenged to be leaders not only in the field of education, technology and evangelization but more so, to be a catalyst for the much needed reforms in our society.

As creative innovators of change, we don’t have to offer our limbs or even our very life, we don’t need to pursue masters or doctoral studies, nor we don’t need to invent new gadgets, we just need to, I am sorry for resorting to this cliché, “do our ordinary duties extraordinarily well.”

Let’s not cheat in our exams even if all of our classmates do it anyway. Let’s come to school on time even if the teacher comes late anyway. Let’s follow the rules even if almost anyone forgets about it anyway.

Let me end this piece by presenting a sort of a post script to the individuals who were in the situations above.

The first one is Spencer Silver, the chemist who discovered the formula for 3M’s Post it Notes, a multi-million dollar industry. In 1985, Time magazine declared Post-it Notes one of the best products of the previous twenty-five years.

The second of course is our very own Miriam Quiambao. She fell on stage but whose poised recovery and smart answer won her the first runner-up prize in Miss Universe pageant in 1999 besting more than 70 beautiful women who also competed.

And finally, that child is Albert Einstein, the genius who has thought of the theory of relativity, the same person from whom the element einsteinium is named after. In 2000, Time magazine hailed him as the Man of the Century.