Cold Fusion

Henry Rawlinson was a nineteenth century British archeologist who deciphered the Sumerian script. As an officer of the British East Indian Company, he was stationed in Iran, close to the Behistun Inscription, a multilingual inscription on a steep cliff at Mount Behistun. After king Darius the Great completed the inscription around 500 BC, he ordered all passageways destroyed, to prevent the inscription from being vandalized. This also meant that the inscription became inaccessible. 

Henry Rawlinson combined two unique talents: He was an avid free climber and also an ancient history buff. Because of this, he was able to make many dangerous trips to study the inscription, thus laying the foundation for deciphering the cuneiform script.

The combination of unrelated and unique talents in a single person is often key to innovation and extraordinary achievement. Think of Steve Jobs, who combined deep computer knowledge with a passion for beautiful design to create Apple.

If you want to develop yourself, it’s not only important to become better at your individual talents, but also to combine strengths in different unrelated fields. For example, I am a Chemical Engineer by training and I’m trained in Theatre and Stand-Up Comedy as well. This combination provides an excellent foundation for professional speaking.

A fascinating exercise to apply this idea is called Cold Fusion: Write down your three most powerful talents, and then brainstorm ideas how to create value using these three strengths simultaneously. 

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