I just finished watching the movie “Flash of Genius” and it’s easy to come away from the story of Dr. Robert Kearns’s struggle against the Ford Motor Company with a heightened sense of fear, cynicism and anger with the ability for a corporation to get away with stealing from the individual inventor.

(spoilers ahead)

While Dr. Kearns’s effort and eventual victory is commendable it must be understood that for the 12 years that he fought the Goliath he was not inventing.  This would be one thing if the intermittent wiper was his first and only idea but if the story is to be believed it was just one in a long string of inventions which emerged from Dr. Kearns’s imagination since he was a child.  Given this, it is hard to imagine that it would be his last invention and while his intellect was certainly challenged by engaging the Ford Motor Company, we’re left to imagine what he may have created if not otherwise occupied.

While certainly within our means, I believe that those of us who are creatively inclined would better serve the world to cease fearing what can be taken from us and instead focus on developing that which cannot, namely our ability to invent.  Leonardo Di Vinci is not known to most of us for his ability to litigate (although I would not be surprised if he were proficient) but for the volumes of notebooks, sketches and artifacts that were ahead of their time and inspire us even today.

The sting of having the fruits of your labor taken from you for the benefit of others is painful, but the pain can be reduced if we focus on the process instead of the outcome, of invention.

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