Leaning over a barbed wire fence and staring out across a shit pattied cow pasture, sixth grade me thought there had to be a better way. A better way not just to collect the wheelbarrow full of apples I just dumped, but for everything.
I grew up in small town Alabama on five acres. There were many chores to maintain the property, but the one I hated most was picking up apples that fell from our small cluster of green crab apple trees.
My father, being the neurotic perfectionist he is, insisted this be completed before mowing the yard. I loathed this with every fiber of my pint sized being. The apples were rotten, mushy, hornet infested, stench filled pains in my ass. Despite my complaints, Dad insisted there was no shortcut to picking them up by hand. Don’t be afraid of some hard work he would say.
I disagreed. Profusely. So not wanting to disappoint him, I innovated.
With two halves of an orange juice can and some wood, the claw like apple picker upper was born. My first invention meant I would never pick up another apple in my life.
Like the great father he is, my Dad respected my ingenuity, but not without thinking I was different. Why all the hassle when you could just pick them up? It took me years to understand that it wasn’t my innovative spirit that confused him, but the change it brought about. Change leads to uncertainty which leads to uncomfortableness. A preferably avoidable feeling.
As entrepreneurs we need to understand this. Just like the sea fading into the horizon, the view of innovation seems endless.
How far it goes, no one knows. But it’s our job to sail the uncharted waters and bring back the value.
In a world of people avoiding uncomfortableness, be different. Embrace the journey of uncertainty and know that better ways are ahead.
Or keep staring at cow shit.