Sarah’s Diary Episode Eight

Jenny wanted to use this class to talk about the competitive aspect of being an innovator. When she mentioned the competitive aspect of being an innovator, she noticed that several students seemed to recoil at this. They had read of the cut-throat competition that innovators went through when they were under consideration for prestigious awards.

“I want to share with you the next entry from Sarah’s diary on January 25, 1889. I want you to consider how Hiram and Mable shaped the competition in a positive direction. Each winner of the weekly or daily competitions were obligated to coach their younger siblings. Actually, this was the suggestion from Harriett, who thought that the younger children were disadvantaged by the older and more experienced siblings. Here’s what Sarah had to share.”

“I’ve been helping Jacob, Luke, and Matthew with their questions. I really love doing this. It’s also a challenge. Luke is totally focused on his garden so I’m trying to help him think of questions about gardening. Jacob is a real challenge. I’m trying to get him to focus on questions on how he can avoid work. Matthew is such a joy. He’s young enough to be inquisitive about everything.”

Jenny resumed class. “You can clearly see that Sarah was excited to help her brothers become more competitive in the question challenge. Why do you think that is?”

The class began to see the nurturing side of Sarah that Jenny had told them about earlier. Then Jenny asked: “Do you think that the others would have been so helpful to their siblings?” The class didn’t think so, but then Jenny told them: “They may not have been as nurturing, but what I read in Hiram’s memoir was they were all very helpful. Why do you think that is? Can you imagine our football team reaching out to another team to make them better?”

The class didn’t understand what drove the cooperative competition that was present in the Malcomb children. “When you look at times when innovation flourished, the innovators were competitive, but they also learned from each other. The learning may not be as direct as with the Malcomb children, but each breakthrough led to learning and further advancements. Just imagine the advancements made in digital technology.”

“Competition is vital to innovation as long as it is not destructive. Clearly the Malcomb’s benefitted from the competition because it drove their curiosity.”

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“Winning isn’t getting ahead of others, it is getting ahead of yourself.” – Roger Staubach (Hall of Fame quarterback)

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