Awaken Your Perceptive Powers: How to Take Ordinary and Make It Extraordinary!

By Lorie Rosenberg

Think about it...you're taking your dog out for a walk on a beautiful summer day. You're strolling along merrily and decide to let out the leash so your dog can roam a little bit. As you're enjoying the wonderful scenery and the warm sun melting on your back, you notice a tug on the leash as your dog wanders off the path into some tall brush. Darn it...you weren't paying attention and who knows what he's gotten into? You yank on the leash to get him back on the walkway, and then you notice the many prickly burrs that have stuck to his long fur. What a mess! Now you'll have to pull them all out, hoping not to make a tangled mess of his fur or hurt him in the process.

BurrsIn that moment when you saw all the burrs attached to your dog's fur, did you wonder how that burr actually latched on to his hair? Did you think about the implications of this problem and how you might be able to capitalize on this random occurrence? Probably not. Yet that's pretty much what happened on another lovely summer day in 1948. A Swiss amateur-mountaineer and inventor named George de Mestral had taken his dog out for a walk in nature. When he got back home, he noticed that his dog and his pants, for that matter, were covered with nasty burrs.

microscopic-photograph-velcroSo instead of attending to his dog when he got home, De Mestral took one of the burrs and placed it under his microscope to take a look at it. He wanted to find out how it was able to cling to his dog and to his pants as well. What he saw were small hooks that were able to cling to the tiny loops of fabric on his pants.  This is the mechanism it uses to survive in nature. By sticking to the fur of any animal it comes in contact with, it actually distributes its seed sacs to other locations where they can develop into new plants.

What a discovery...and that could have been the end of it. But De Mestral could not stop thinking about how he might be able to create a new type of fastener using this type of technology - like a zipper - yet one side would have stiff hooks like the burrs and the other would have soft loops like the fabric of his pants.

As with many new inventions, De Mestral's met with ridicule and laughter. But he was determined that his invention would succeed. He contacted a weaver in a textile plant in France and together they perfected his hook and loop fastener. Through many iterations, he developed a technique for using infrared light to create tough hooks on nylon. Once his design was complete, he patented his invention in 1955. He called it - Velcro (a combination of the word velour and crochet. Throughout the process, he was determined that Velcro would rival the zipper and become a prominent technology in the fastener industry.

One of the incredible powers we possess  as humans is our ability to perceive the world around us and use our keen insight to reinvent it to fit our particular needs. That's exactly what De Mestral did. He took a random incident and used it to create a multimillion dollar industry. Today, Velcro is used in a wide range of industries. In your home, it can be used to mount a picture to the wall, and in outer space astronauts use it to help keep their dinner plates from floating away in zero gravity space. The possibilities are endless.

View the Ordinary as Extraordinary

What we can learn from this example is that we can tap into our perceptive powers to take random, ordinary events, perceive their significance, and use that to create new opportunities and innovations. This is how people throughout the ages have developed inventions, new technologies, medical advances, and all types of innovations that have made our world a better place to live, many of which we take for granted in our daily life. From the switch you turn on that brings light into your home to the device you hold in your hand to talk - or text - with the world, it's these innovations that were sparked by a random thought or idea from someone who perceived their environment a little differently. And they had the belief and courage to turn that idea into something incredibly amazing!

How Can You Tap into Your Perceptive Powers?

Be Aware of Your Environment – It's important to be aware of what's going on in your environment. As you're going about your life, take time occasionally to perceive it as if you're a fly on the wall. View what's happening objectively, determine relationships, how people, places and things interact, and notice commonalities and differences. Think about what is really going on and how you can learn from what you've perceived? How can you use it to understand something about yourself or how you can take your life in a whole new direction?

It's amazing what we miss in everyday life because we're so busy with our tasks and responsibilities. You can take a walk on the very same path every single day and then one day notice something different, or at least you thought it was different, only to find out that it was there all along. That's because for some reason, you became aware of it. To develop your powers of perception, you need to begin to ask yourself, "Why? What does this mean?" Ideas come from everywhere, and mostly when you're not concentrating or focusing diligently to create them. You have to relax and let your creativity emanate from within.

Every once in a while, I'll get stuck on a problem and I just can't find the answer. I'll try to bully my way through it, but the answer just doesn't come. I'm frustrated, my body is tense, and I'm angry at myself that I can't come up with a solution. That's when I know it's time to let go of the problem, and work on something else. Later, when I've relaxed my mind, let go of my connection to the problem, an answer will actually come...and sometimes the answer amazes me because it's not what I expected.

Nothing Is Really New – Many people believe that an idea has to be totally unique and completely out of the box. That's really not the case. Most ideas are not really new...they're based on something that has already been done before.

In De Mestral's case, he didn't develop the fastener technology. The zipper had already been invented years before. That's why is so important to look at the past, to see what has already been created, and use that as a springboard to success.

What De Mestral did create was a new type of fastener technology that took this industry in a whole new direction. We still use zippers today, but we now use Velcro as well for a variety of fastener applications. He built upon a preexisting concept and used his perceptive powers to invent  something new and innovative.

Be Open to New Ideas and Innovations – Change is difficult for many people. They get stuck in their particular way of doing things and don't want to change...even if there are easier ways to do something.

To truly be perceptive, you need to be open to change. You must be able to think creatively and be willing to experiment, even in the face of potential failure. Innovations don't come about with a single try. Sometimes it takes years of discovery and adaptation to come up with an invention that actually works. It took 13 years of trial and error to create De Mestral's patented design for Velcro!

As you begin to embrace change, you will sense a new-found freedom...a release from the need to control your environment. When you do, you'll start to feel your perceptive powers grow as you become attuned to the ebb and flow of your environment and the amazing ideas that come forth as you perceive the world around you.

Don't Take No for an Answer – As you begin to bring change into your life, you'll find that it will also bring challenges from the people around you. Just as you were reluctant to change or be changed, others in your life will be fearful of this and do everything they can to keep you as you are.

As with De Mestral, I'm sure there were many people who thought he was nuts. Why change something that is already working...and working well? He, on the other hand, believed in himself and in his invention, and would not take no for an answer.  And thank goodness he didn't, because Velcro has become an amazing invention that has revolutionized many industries that utilize some type of fastening device.

You Can't Do It Alone – De Mestral had an amazing idea that he perceived from his environment. But he needed help to ensure that the idea came into fruition. He contacted a weaver in a textile plant in France and together they developed the "hook and loop" idea into a marketable product. And that also applies to you. You simply can't do it alone, and expect a favorable outcome. You need the collection of talent and resources at your disposal to ensure that your great idea becomes a reality.

We Are All Creative Beings

Most people say they're not creative...that they can't draw worth beans! And it may be true that they are not adept at drawing, but that may not be their particular area of strength. They may find that their creativity is in another area. Some people are musical, some artistic, and some are great at mathematics. We all have creative outlets that are based on our particular interests and talents.

What's important to recognize is that you have within you the capacity to tap into your own creative outlets and develop new ideas and innovations from the world in which you live. By using this type of innovative approach, you'll discover your own perceptive powers that will enable you to find innovative ways to recreate your business and your life.