How to Fly a Horse by Kevin Ashton [Book Summary]


Have you ever stood in wonder near a Picasso or a Rodin and said, I wish I had that creative gift? Ever see the current tech whiz kid earn a billion and say, why can’t I innovate just like that?

That kind of thinking is popular in our world and it stresses a popular myth: that creativity is the outcome of personal genius. Few people have it, and the majority of us don’t.

This book chapter will reveal to you how this mindset is totally incorrect. They reveal that creativity is a quite easy process that all of us have the ability to do. Read this book chapter and you will find out how you can be a creative genius in any way you decide to do.


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Chapter 1 – Creativity isn’t the outcome of genius; however, it is the outcome of the normal process of thinking about how to defeat an issue.


How often have you heard that Mozart was a genius, composing full symphonies in his head before writing them on paper? Or that great creators were in some way completely different from the remaining of us?

These are myths, basic and simple. As a matter of fact, no inventor is basically different from you or me.

The creativity myth addresses that few are selected for creative greatness also, their success depends on magical flashes of genius understanding.

However, if you really check the life of any genius, it’s not superiority and spontaneous inspiration that will stress their success; however, it is careful thinking that will.

Consider Archimedes, the person who first yelled out “Eureka!”, and who is accredited with finding the features of density. While he was having a bath, he realized that the water rose and fell again as he got into and exited the tub. In a nutshell, Archimedes got to know that the displacement of water could be used to measure volume.

However, he didn’t instantly link this discovery to density. Instead, it came to him after a long time of thinking about the issue and attempting to create solutions for it.



As a matter of fact, the act of creating itself is little more than basically thinking about how to fix an issue– a thing all of us can do.

A lot of experiments have proven this to be correct, like psychologist Karl Duncker’s Box Experiment. In his experiment, Duncker told the participants to attach a candle to a wooden door using just the candle, a book of matches and a box of tacks. He found out that there are three solutions – melting wax to fix the candle, attaching the candle to the door, and lastly, emptying the box of tacks, attaching it to the door and putting the candle inside – and that the processes of getting these solutions were the same for everybody who tried them.

For instance, all the people who considered attaching the box of tacks to the door experienced the exact same thought process: disregarding other ideas, thinking about making a platform with the tacks and then thinking about making use of the box as a platform.


Chapter 2 – Creation essentially entails adding to a long line of innovations from a long line of forgotten, regular people.


Hence, innovation isn’t the outcome of instants of genius. Similarly, it’s never the outcome of just one person’s work.

Everything we create, regardless of how new or interesting, relies upon thousands of people and generations of ancestors who added to our idea.

There is no completely new creation. They all build on the work of countless (and usually unknown) past thinkers.

For instance, think of the situation of Edmond, a 12-year-old Black slave from La Réunion, who is accredited with finding out how to make the vanilla pod self-pollinate. Before his finding, vanilla was just grown in Mexico, as Europe didn’t have the appropriate environments for growth.

Ferréol Bellier-Beaumont, Edmond’s master, was a botanist who was aware of the growth in the field created by the naturalist Konrad Sprengel, whose work showed that plants reproduced by sexual means.

He transferred this understanding to Edmond when he revealed to him how to manually fertilize watermelon. Afterward, Edmond got to know that the same process could be used on vanilla! Without Ferréol and Sprengel, and the numerous thinkers before them, it wouldn’t have been possible for Edmond to “create” a way of pollination for vanilla orchids.



This process of building upon innovations is continuous, and with each new creation, fresh opportunities for future innovations are brought out. Every new solution will bring a lot of advantages; however, they will as well show new, unexpected difficulties that have to be fixed creatively.

For instance, the creation and improvement of Coca-Cola from bottled patent medicine to a canned refreshment fixed a lot of issues like the desire of American soldiers in Korea to have access to portable and canned soda.

However, Coca-Cola has since formed its own issues: the high fructose corn syrup in its recipe adds to obesity in the United States, surplus caffeine can bring about vomiting or diarrhea and aluminum cans take several years to decompose if they are in landfills.

For instance, still solving the issue of aluminum waste, also brought the prevalent introduction of aluminum recycling. 


Chapter 3 – Creation entails taking gradual steps instead of jumping into the unknown.


The first telephones that were made were miles away from contemporary-day smartphones. However, the change didn’t occur all of a sudden. Instead, it came in baby steps.

Certainly, creation emanates from taking small steps, and not huge leaps. It is the outcome of asking trivial questions, seeking solutions and then finding new questions.

For instance, Steve Jobs didn’t just create the iPhone in one night. Instead, he thought about the then-current smartphones and continuously asked himself, “Why don’t they work?”

The issue was heavy, hard-to-use keyboards. And the key? A big screen and a pointer.

Then a new issue: What type of pointer? The solution: a mouse.

Issue: Nobody wants to carry a mouse around. Solution: A stylus.

Issue: A stylus is really easy to lose. The solution: Make use of our fingers!

There was no single “Eureka” instant for Jobs as he made the iPhone. Instead, he cautiously thought through theoretical steps, reducing the number of solutions as he solved issues.

But, during the process of creation, it’s likely for us to meet inattentional blindness, whereby we miss significant information since our focus is directed somewhere else.



We can notice these principles working in research that sent a clown on a unicycle down a street that was full of people who were occupied messing with their phones. Incredibly, just a portion of the people was able to recognize this extremely rare event!

Although they actually saw the clown, it didn’t really register with them. They were really busy focusing on another thing– texting, calling and what-not – to really sense the clown.

Inattentional blindness can obstruct our creativity, as it hinders us from viewing every possibility, particularly the possibilities we wouldn’t expect.

Steve Jobs’ path toward the making of the iPhone was just possible since he was able to take from a broad range of ideas and solutions, not only the ones that fit with conventional wisdom. To reason just like Jobs, we have to open our minds and view everything, not only the things we expect to see.


Chapter 4 – Without work and failure, creation is absolutely nothing.


Don’t wish cancer cure or an artistic masterpiece to just fall off from the sky and land in your lap. Just like every other great creator, we have to work and embrace failure before we can create any good thing.

Creation in the absence of work is a concept that is at odds with reality. If you wish to get the results, you’ll need to put in the hours to attain them. Doing that needs total commitment and the capability to say “no” to distractions.

Few people make use of rituals to assist them to remain on track. For instance, Igor Stravinsky, the great Russian composer, and innovator of twentieth-century music abided by a really specific routine: every morning, on the piano, he would play a Bach fugue before going out to work for ten hours. Then, he’d compose before lunch, and then after lunch, he would orchestrate and transcribe.



He did this for several years, working so hard without waiting for inspiration to jolt him into work.

However, in spite of all your hard work, you will unavoidably fail on your way to creation. Certainly, for the first time, nearly nothing will be perfect, or even good enough for that matter. Due to that, it’s important to learn how to be resilient when faced with failure.

Consider Stephen King, the novelist as your inspiration: he frequently scraps 300 pages in his pursuit to make a good book.

After these failures, rejection will usually follow; however, even this has significance in that it reveals to you where to next to and what to modify for your next try.

Anything you do, don’t be like Franz Reichelt, who disregarded both experts and his own data, all of which mentioned that his parachute design was faulty. In spite of this, in 1912, he jumped from the Eiffel Tower, and needless to say, he did not survive this.


Chapter 5 – In order to work creatively in a team, say “show me” all the time.


Although you have the influence to have a lot of creative work done by yourself, at times, it is better to work together with a team that shares your goals.

The best type of teams for creative projects are isolated, small and extremely motivated groups. It is even better to have groups of two.

The main aim of this group should be the creative discussion in which creative issues are known and fixed. In these discussions, the team will form a set of goals, whereby the individual team members have the liberty to work on their own.

Trey Parker, and Matt Stone, who are the inventors of South Park, also make use of this approach and are able to form and complete an episode within just six days. Firstly, they recognize and fix issues together. Later, they work on their own, and Parker is doing the first writing and directing which is then polished and refined by Stone.

But, at times you’ll see yourself in teams where excellent thinking isn’t supported. Unluckily, this is the situation for a lot of companies today.

Creativity intimidates the stability of the status quo, and hence, the majority of the organizations, therefore, repress creative people, either by design or by coincidence.



However, there are organizations that understand the power of creativity, and they take active actions to foster creative thinking.

One method to bring new ideas out into the open is by making use of a process called “show me.” This process revolves around the basic notion that to really know and acknowledge a new idea, you need to be shown, and not only told.

This doesn’t just bring novel ideas to the forefront; however, it also offers people the instant chance to test the strength of their ideas.

For instance, consider Clarence “Kelly” Johnson, who as a new person at the Lockheed plant in California confidently stated that their new airplane design, the Lockheed P-80 “Shooting Star,” was defective. Hall Hibbard, his boss was captivated. He said “Show me,” requesting Johnson to enhance the design. Therefore he did!

Johnson worked on the issue, fixing it with a “twin” tail and hence assisting to develop America’s first jet fighter.


How to Fly a Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery by Kevin Ashton Book Review


You don’t need to be a genius to invent. As a matter of fact, anyone can do it. With steady hard work and recurrent failure, you will prosper in making a new thing; hence adding to the generations of creative thought which act as the basis for novel thinking.


Your ideas are never really off-the-wall.

When next you are concerned that your idea is really wacky to become beneficial or accepted; pause and think: “Great! This signifies I could be up to something!” Ideas that are wacky should be treated with the exact examination and persistence as any other idea. Judah Folkman as well, who modernized cancer therapy with his thesis that tumors were formed in the patient’s own blood supply, was rejected for having a new and left-field idea at first!


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Savaş Ateş

I'm a software engineer. I like reading books and writing summaries. I like to play soccer too :) Good Reads Profile: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/106467014-sava-ate

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