Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Einstein: His Life and Universe

I've been "reading" Walter Isaacson's Einstein: His Life and Universe during my commute. It's a really interesting biography although the physics is way over my head. I continue to discover in my driving how much I love being read to; but the downside of not having a paper copy is the inability to check exact quotes.

So with that caveat, what I think I heard yesterday on disk seven was something like this: as Einstein tried to work out the details on general relativity, he got stuck. And part of what he needed to do to get unstuck was to let go of some his previous assumptions, in order to make a "quantum leap" forward. Isaacson writes that part of Einstein's genius was "his tenacity and his deep faith in his own intuition, yet he was not mindlessly stubborn."

This is the key, isn't it, to leadership and "genius" in many different fields? To trust one's own intuition and to be tenacious in follow through. To stick with it when the going gets tough. And yet, at the same time to recognize one might be wrong - so to have the wisdom to know when to let it go and go back to the drawing board. Tenacious, but not mindlessly stubborn.

I think in congregations and relationships how on the one hand people forget to trust their own intuition and follow someone else's formula or script. But on the other, as we do learn to trust our intuition, if we aren't careful we can become so tenacious that we "locked in" - way beyond what is helpful. There is a kind of agility here - of nimbleness in thought that I aspire to, and admire in others.

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