The Paper Clip

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It is important to have the idea. It is critical to actually do something with it.

I cud’a done that.

Consider the paper clip. The Postit Note. The hula hoop. Who hasn’t looked at a thing and thought, “I could have done that!”

Sometimes we are amazed. Isn’t that clever? So glad someone thought of this. It makes my life so much easier. It just makes sense.

Why didn’t I think of that?

Other times we are something else. Unimpressed. Maybe something bordering on disdainful. Maybe even resentful.

I could have done that.

The paper clip really is just a common sense thing, after all. Isn’t it? A simple, intuitive solution to an everyday problem? Didn’t take an engineering degree. No need for vast amounts of venture capital, or focus groups and marketing studies. Certainly wasn’t “knowing the right people”.

The paper clip we use now isn’t the original design. There is more than one patent. The ultimate producers weren’t necessarily the inventors. One of the patents even includes a machine for bending the wire into the right shape. After all, the product is created, so it has to have a process equally as valuable. Right?

Several people had a hand in getting the paper clip where it is today.

But anyone could have come up with it. Lots of people probably did. People didn’t run around holding pieces of paper in their fists to hold them together forever. Surely two or more pieces of paper were somehow connected somewhere in the past. That connection might even have looked an awfully lot like a paper clip. None of those clever people – those practical thinkers who said “Well, duh…isn’t it obvious?” – went down in history.

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The paper clip is just one in a countless number of examples in the difference between “important” and “critical”.

It is important to have the idea. It is critical to actually do something with it.

The lowly paper clip is also an example of the beauty of simplicity. Elegant, accessible, and self-explanatory. Doesn’t need a manual or a salesman to create consumers.

It really is an idea anyone could have come up with. And did.

What idea have you come up with? Is it a grand and complicated thing that you can’t quite work out yet? Is it something so simple and sublime that you tell yourself it’s not worth the effort?

Even the most complicated idea can come to pass with the right effort and attitude. There are people in the world who are just the right connection to make it happen. There are links of people who fill in the resources and aptitude you use as an excuse to hold back. Find them. Start by finding the people who can find them. And so on and so on. This is called a network.

The simple and sublime? The idea that you think isn’t worth it? After all, anybody could think of that. It’s so obvious that someone surely has by now. The proof of that will come in the future when you see it in someone else’s packaging.

Chances are good that a thought will cross your mind.

“I cud’a done that.”

So why didn’t you?