I learned recently (from an amazing, amazing must-read book called Sapiens) that human beings are born way too early.
While foals and calves are cantering around the paddock hours after birth, baby humans are toothless and hairless and defenseless when we slide out of the womb. We need protecting for years before we can be self-sufficient.
But that fact’s not the revelation, it’s the why: because our brains are too big. We have these disproportionately giant heads and if they were allowed to remain in the womb until our big old brains and skulls were properly developed, we and our moms (and our genes) would never survive delivery.
So we come out half-baked.
Now if, when we popped out and into our first prehistoric diapers, there were hordes of hungry monkeys skulking around the veld, we would have quickly become crunchy snacks. No matter how smart we were, no matter how much potential we had to grow big and strong, we would have been powerless before the monkey.
Fortunately, we had mothers to provide for us. And nursing mothers had families to provide for them. Without these layers of protection, we would never have lived long enough to hunt and gather and breed and check Facebook.
Can we say the same for the ideas we hatch in those giant skulls?
When we hatch a delicate new idea, do we shelter it from the monkey? Do we make sure it has time to dry off and catch its breath, to have a few meals, to interact with its brothers and sisters? Or do we grab it roughly, put it under a bright light and a magnifying klass, jab it and prod it and shake it hard?
If it has some flaws, do we toss the new idea aside? What if it has a few lumpy bits that could be massaged away, some unnecessary bits that just need pruning? What are we doing to secure the incubator and give our ideas time to grow?
To shift metaphors, our little idea is still a soufflé that needs time to rise. We can’t have hairy apes flinging open the oven door to look for perfection then jabbering loudly because it’s collapsed.
Don’t listen to the snide monkeys who hoot that your idea is weak and hairless. Keep working, shelter your babies, and let the poor things grow up.