Peyton Robinson is my new hero. He’s smart. He’s curious. He’s clever. He’s inventive. He’s twelve (well he’s probably 13 by now). I came across Peyton through a video where he explained his sand-less sandbag invention. You can check it out here. You really must check it out. Prepare to be impressed, and then maybe just a tad depressed. Did I mention he’s twelve?
The sandbag contains a polymer that becomes dense when wet, which better keeps the bag in place–not to mention an entire wall of bags. Peyton figured out just how much salt to add to the bag so that the solution in the bag is heavier than the incoming salt water.
Peyton seems to wander (and wonder) about life until he finds something in need of betterment. Then, he works to make it so. In the three-minute sandbag video, Peyton ingeniously combined his raw materials into a useful and novel solution. This is the very essence of alchemy, and a most enviable skill.
In her book, Creativity in Context, Teresa Ambile, Harvard professor, defined creativity this way, “A product or response that will be judged creative to the extent that (a) it is both novel and appropriate, useful, correct or valuable response to the task at hand, and (b) the task is heuristic rather than algorithmic.”
I think Peyton’s invention fits the bill. The sandbag is certainly novel. I wondered to myself as he described it, “why hasn’t anyone thought of this before?” The sand-less creation also seems useful. In his field tests, the sand-less bag consistently outperformed the traditional one. Not bad Peyton. I think at twelve I was worried about how tall I’d be.
It’s hard to overestimate the value of creative solution-making, particularly in the world in which we live. We face what can feel like insurmountable problems, many of which originate from our own hands. The ingenuity required to overcome these troubles is the holy grail we all seek.
In order to craft ideas into creative solutions, you must first wrestle them down out of thin air. This can take quite some time. A good idea is elusive. It doesn’t yield its secrets at first blush. Once you’re holding it, you then must coax it out in order to shape it and reveal its value. You have to somehow then make the idea real or tangible in the physical world through the use of elements already in existence. Then, you have to test the idea, fail, adapt, rinse and repeat. And finally, if you accomplish all of that, you have to persuade others it is worth their time or money, or both. Not an easy set of chores.
And that brings me back to Peyton. What most impressed me about him was not his invention, but rather his inventive and infectious spirit. He seems to enjoy what he’s doing.
Since alchemy is a lot of work, enjoyment, dare I say delight–along-the-way, just might be as important as the result. Not only did this 12 year old inspire me to create, he reminded me to enjoy it as I do.
Can you think of ways to add delight to your creating?