What Some of the Greatest Innovators in History Have in Common

What do Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Walt Disney, Oprah, and Steve Jobs all have in common? Of course, they are all iconic innovators who have changed the way the world thinks and acts, but that goes without saying. Looking beyond the obvious, each of them faced the same issue at some point in their journey …


What do Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Walt Disney, Oprah, and Steve Jobs all have in common?

Of course, they are all iconic innovators who have changed the way the world thinks and acts, but that goes without saying. Looking beyond the obvious, each of them faced the same issue at some point in their journey to paramount success, and each of them triumphed.

It’s the same problem you and I (along with practically every other person in the universe) face at some point in our lives. What do some of the greatest innovators in history have in common?

They didn’t invent anything.

To invent, by definition, means “to create or produce (something useful) for the first time.” By that definition:

Thomas Edison didn’t invent the light bulb. (>>)

William S. Harley and the Davidson brothers didn’t invent the motorcycle. (>>)

Henry Ford didn’t invent the automobile. (>>)

Sam Walton didn’t invent the department store. (>>)

Walt Disney didn’t invent the animated cartoon. (>>)

Oprah Winfrey didn’t invent the talk show. (>>)

Steve Jobs didn’t invent the computer or mobile digital media player or cell phone. (>>) (>>) (>>)

Bill Gates didn’t invent the computer or operating system. (>>)

Jeff Bezos didn’t invent the e-commerce website. (>>)

Larry Page and Sergey Brin didn’t invent the internet search engine. (>>)

What each of these individuals did do, however, is take an idea that already existed and improved upon it. They invented their own version, a better version, of an already-innovative idea.

In the words of King Solomon, “there is nothing new under the sun.” (>>)

You don’t have to re-invent the wheel. Almost every time, it’s better to steadily improve than it is to try to start from scratch. In your marriage, with your parenting skills, in your walk with God, in your career – what do you have at your disposal right now that you can improve upon in order to serve someone well today?

Just because there’s something in your life that’s not where you want to be doesn’t mean it can’t be improved and morphed into something that changes everything. 

Stop thinking you have to find the perfect solution and start iterating and improving on what’s currently there. That’s what all the greats do.

Posted by Mike P. Taylor

Mike Taylor is a proud husband, father of 4, and author from Nashville, TN who communicates God's love in a way that makes sense.