From water buffaloes to World Wide Web

Throughout recorded history, there has been an upward spiral of invention, development, and innovation that has helped humanity to progress.
This upward spiral continues today with one slight difference. Never before has there been such a rapid rate of development in breakthrough technology that has changed the way people live.
Recently I was in Washington, DC, for an annual conference sponsored by the U.S. government on technological innovation. Each year, this event brings together people who are on the cutting edge of technology to share their ideas with one another. Often when two inventors or developers of such technology begin to understand one another, the results can be amazing.
Many times, quantum leaps ahead happen with this knowledge transfer. In such an environment, one plus one can equal 100.
China represents a fertile ground for the development, growth, and transfer of much of this emerging knowledge and technology.
I met a gentleman at this conference who is a first generation immigrant from China.
He graduated from an Ivy League school here in the United States and has earned multiple post graduate degrees. He is one of the elite developers that will make the World Wide Web functional for the next generation.
This past summer, he flew back to China to visit his parents in the village where he grew up. This village in China is much the way it must have been 1,000 years ago. There is no electricity or running water. His parents still farm a small piece of ground that they plow with a water buffalo.
The young man who was visiting his parents decided he would spend two or three days plowing the field for his father during his visit.
He had plowed the field many times as a young man before he moved to the United States to begin his education and high level professional career.
Unfortunately, during the decade he was away from home, he somehow lost the skill to drive the water buffalo correctly so he could pull the plow in a straight line. After failing miserably in several amusing attempts to get the water buffalo to follow his directions, the PhD’s father commented, “You’ve spent years learning things and have become useless in the process.”
In one generation, a family has gone from the virtual stone age to the high-speed computer age; however, it is important as we gain new skills to remember the old ones that may be valuable in the future.
Most people who succeed in business and in life do so by utilizing people skills. They can communicate, inspire, motivate, and nurture people around them. Too often, as they climb the ladder, they get farther and farther away from the initial skills that made them successful. This is a recipe for disaster.
It is great to develop high tech bells and whistles for your vehicle as long as you fill the gas tank, change the oil, and put air in your tires so your vehicle will continue running.
As you go through your day today, be committed to learning new skills that will expand your horizons while continuing to practice the basic skills that got you here in the first place.
Today’s the day!

Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network, as well as a published author of many books, including “The Ultimate Gift.” He is a columnist and motivational speaker. He may be reached at 5840 S. Memorial Drive, Suite 312, in Tulsa or by e-mail at

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