by Tara Agacayak on January 4, 2011

If you have not met Oliver Sacks, let me introduce you. He’s a neurologist/author who has a fascinating and practical way of explaining how the brain works that helps us better understand how we work.

In this NYT op-ed, he describes some ways in which brain damage and cognitive deficiency can redefine our understanding of human capacity. His research and perspective redraw the boundaries around what is possible for the human brain to achieve.

Here are five things for creative entrepreneurs to take away from his op-ed based on good old-fashioned science.

Work around deficits

Like a boulder in the middle of the road, challenges that arise merely serve to guide you on a different path toward your destination. Obstacles are not showstoppers, they are wayfinders. We should give thanks when we are stopped in our tracks for being forced to innovate an alternative.

Learn to do old things in new ways

This is the basis of many a business model – solving a problem or filling a need in a new and better way than was done before. Can’t reach the can on the top shelf? Design a step-stool, or a can grabber, or a can-reaching service.

Make discoveries

Sacks chronicles biologist Geerat Vermeij (blind since age three) who identified new species of mollusks based on the contours of their shells. You think the things that hamper you are weaknesses, but they are actually unique strengths waiting to be turned into assets.

Never stop learning or growing

“I’m too old,” is not an excuse. “I don’t know how,” is not an excuse. You can learn how at any time. And if you don’t use what you have, you will lose it. Slow, steady, forward motion.

Disprove naysayers

If you’ve got an idea that seems wacky or people don’t understand your vision, don’t be discouraged. Find the way to bring it to life. People will believe it when they see it. Show them.

This is how you bloom where you’re (trans)plantedby flourishing despite the obstacles and the challenges and the weather conditions.

And as Dr. Sacks reports, it’s also good for the brain.

I say it’s just as good for your heart.

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