Necessity- the Mother of Invention

Notes on Creativity theme of the week:
Characteristics of Creativity

‘Necessity is the mother of all invention’, goes the saying- as far back as Plato. It suggests that if we need something badly enough, we’ll come up with a way to fill that need.
The site takes a humorous look at inventions (often quasi-inventions) that people have come up with to solve various problems.
One of my personal favourites is this picture:
That’s one way to solve the problem of driving an imported car that has the steering wheel on the wrong side! (Of course, I’m not endorsing this solution, just showing the photo.)
If our need is great enough, we’ll work at a solution long and hard until we find one.
I wonder if the reverse is also true- if there is something we want to do/create/invent badly enough, will we work long and hard to find the need it fills?
Image source:


Today’s 4 Minute Writer  

Real Work

Jeff’s motto had always been “It ain’t real work unless you get your hands dirty.” His dad taught it to him, and he taught it to his kids. He made sure his kids, eight and ten years old, experienced the pride of building something, seeing the finished product they themselves had made.

January 4 was just like every other workday of the past twenty-some years. Jeff suited up and got ready to go to his welding bench with the other guys.

On this morning, though, his boss was waiting for him at the bench. “This came in for you from Head Office,” he told Jeff, handing him an envelope with the company logo embossed along the side.

Jeff raised his eyebrows, “Head office? What do those stuffed shirts want from me?” He grabbed the envelope and tore it open.

Eyes wide he blurted out, “You have got to be kidding me!”


“What kind of prank are these guys pulling? It’s a job offer for VP of Sales and Marketing at Head Office. This some kind of joke?”

His boss grabbed the letter and read it for himself, “What the…”

Jeff spent the next half hour trying to sort out the situation with the HR department. He figured out that the letter was intended for a different Jeff Sampson and was sent to him in error. However, as the Manager of HR explained, they were extremely busy and it would take far too much time and fussing to straighten out. The best solution was, she explained, for Jeff to show up at Head Office on Monday to start his new job and settle in to it.

He could not believe what he heard.

The thought that plagued him most was how he was going to explain to his kids that he was now going to be a stuffed shirt who never got his hands dirty.

Image source

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Filed under Creativity, Writing

10 responses to “Necessity- the Mother of Invention

  1. Good question. Maybe I’m too much of a romantic, but I do believe if you ‘build it they will come.’ It’s a chicken and egg question. There is no definitive answer.

    • ‘If you build it they will come’ certainly has worked for you as a successful entrepreneur. The right combination of passion for what you do and showing others the great things you can offer them.

  2. Regarding Helene’s comment – it reminds me of a play written by a friend of mine in play-writing class. The assignment was to write a one act, one scene play with no more than two characters. Here is his play:

    Curtain opens revealing a chicken opposite an egg, both center stage.
    Chicken: You first!
    Egg: No, no – you first!

    Makes me laugh every time I remember it!

    Now, on to the theme.

    Necessity truly is the mother of invention, although I still contend that if it had been up to me to invent the wheel, we wouldn’t have one. Sometimes I have great ideas, but being basically an “idea woman,” I am seldom able to bring them to actual fruition! My guess is that necessity must be paired with an actual inventor, but maybe not. . .

    I have a great idea for people who use crutches, as I do – particularly the “Loft-Strand” variety. What I would really like to have, that I think would be extremely helpful to a lot of people like me is a device I would call a “crutch holster” for the car. My idea is that it would consist of a couple of 1″ wide hook-shaped clamps that would be positioned and attached near the ceiling inside the car, in line with the windows. While traveling, the crutches could be mounted there, thus being out of the way from between the seats or cluttering up the back seat. When needed, the crutches would be easily reached and removed by the person using them. In addition, it would be helpful to have a collapsible and adjustably-placed clamp on the shaft of each crutch. When in a restaurant, the crutches could then be propped against the table, using the clamp. Finding a convenient place to put your crutches where they will not slide and fall can be a real hassle, and if the server takes them to put them out of the way, then they are unavailable to use when needed until they are brought back to you.

    So, I have the idea, and while I would be willing to spend the time to see it done, I don’t have the foggiest idea how to proceed. I could probably make a drawing, but don’t know which materials would work best, or how to attach them so they would be safe in the car, or not mar a table. So far, the few people I’ve mentioned this to think it’s a great idea, but they haven’t been able to come up with a prototype either! I have done some research, inquiring of medical equipment supply houses if such things are available. To date, I’ve not found any place that has anything like it.

    So, now I put it to your readers: Anyone out there in the blogosphere have any ideas? And now – my four minutes are up. . .

    • Thanks for the comment and for putting your idea out there in here. Creativity in progress.
      Good question. I haven’t invented anything, so don’t have any words of wisdom on this.
      It all starts with an idea, though, and you’ve got that down- step one completed!
      Loved the chicken and egg play!

  3. I loved this post because it reminds me of my dad, the ingenious engineer, who invented such things as the dog-proof fridge lock, the aluminium arrow which was light enough to help him set up a radio arial(by firing it into a tree) and the patent curtain rail spacer which currently holds my sitting room curtains up.

    And so much more.

    Still think the divine is an engineer. I wonder what necessity led to our invention?

    • What unique inventions your dad has made- who would have thunk to make a dog-proof fridge lock! I suppose since there are devices to keep small children out of cupboards it stands to reason that there should be devices to keep dogs out of fridges…
      And how you’ve woven the divine engineer back in- lovely. I love how Calvin Miller addresses this in A Requiem for Love:

      The Father-Spirit smiled.
      The huge gates swung fully open now, exposing
      “I’m going in now. This day is triumph
      For the Masterpiece is done!
      And I will soon en-spirit him with being.
      Man shall be born and stand a king today!

      He shall be Regis, lover of his Maker.
      Man made to cherish truth, and bless the morning
      Valor with a dream, bold to exise evil-
      Chaste love and high compassion,
      Heaping dignity on all he touches!
      Man shall devote himself to beauty and to art.
      Knowledge will be treasure unto him
      Giving birth to science.
      And with science he shall widen all this shining

  4. V

    I think the cheaper way to have solved the “wrong” side steering was to have just learned how to drive on that side……. I don’t see the need here, just laziness.

    Is it possible that we confuse laziness with need??

  5. Another thought provoking post. I truly enjoy reading your thoughts.

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