Boogers, Bacteria and Z-man
My 8 year old, Z-Man, got a science kit for Christmas. It’s got petri dishes, so yesterday we started growing bacteria.
We put sugar and gelatin in the dishes. The instructions said to take a cotton swab and get some bacteria from wherever you want. So we rubbed our cotton swab in…
-Lint from between Z-Man’s toes
We smeared them onto the gelatin. In a few days, we’ll witness thriving colonies of bacteria multiplying in the corner of his bedroom.
I said “Hey Z-Man, come here, let me show you something.” I drew him a picture of how bacteria divide and multiply. “These babies double every 20 minutes. Here’s a calculator. Let’s start with 1 and then start multiplying by 2.”
As he punched numbers, I wrote them down on this piece of paper:
By the time we got to hour #2, he started giggling. “WOW! This is going to go to a million!”
“Yeah, and that’s only gonna take about six hours.” I asked him: “THEN what happens?”
“I don’t know!”
We kept going. One million, two million, four million. He doesn’t even know how to read the numbers anymore. He’s rolling around on the sofa, giggling.
“Z-Man, you can hardly even see a million bacteria cuz they’re so small. They’re just a speck. By tomorrow, you’ll see a little bit. Then what’s going to happen? Are they going to grow and grow until they eat our house?”
He didn’t know. He crinkled his face: “Yes. Maybe?”
He definitely knows that by next week those furry critters are gonna be swimming all over the place. Which colony will be bigger? The one from the dirt, or the one from the boogers?
There’s nothing like exponential growth to fire your imagination. Z-Man GETS it. Them suckers are growing. You can already see tiny colonies form and it’s only been one day.
You know what this is just like?
It’s like your own knowledge, education and wisdom.
It SEEMS like those things are linear. But they’re not. They’re exponential.
Because every NEW thing you learn connects to everything you already know.
If you know 4 things, there are 6 connections between them. But if you know 6 things, there are 15 connections:
Add a 7th and connections expand to 21. Everything’s connected. Your knowledge grows one step at a time, but your ability to apply it grows exponentially. It multiplies like Z-Man’s bacteria boogers.
You should get all fired up by this, because the difference between a tiny speck of bacteria and a frothing colony that’s shoving the lid off that petri dish is only a few days.
This is why a 70 year old man or woman who feels creaky every morning can still be brimming with wisdom and be a force of nature. It’s why the late Peter Drucker was one of the most sought-after business consultants, even at the ripe old age of 90.
Glenn Livingston says, “Most people overestimate what they can accomplish in 1 year and underestimate what they can accomplish in 5.” Amen brother.
Right now you have problems that have taken you years to solve, that 2 years from now you will be able to solve in FIVE MINUTES.
That’s why you must never give up on your vision, your commitment to education, your passion for excellence, or your dreams. Your power as an active agent in the world is exponential. Never, ever forget that.
P.S.: Which bacteria do you think will grow the fastest? The ones from the dirt, the dishrag, the lint from between Z-Man’s toes, or boogers? Cast your vote below.