#1: From Darkness to Innovation: Embracing Creativity in Challenging Times

Embracing Creativity:

It was approximately 9:00 PM on Sunday night the 6th of April 2023 and I was lying in bed reading a book. Suddenly, the lights went out we were completely in the dark, being a South African the first thought that crossed my mind was load shedding, a daily occurrence that has formed part of the South African landscape.

On this occasion this was not the case, a transmission tower and major power line had fallen. This is what happened, but the actual cause was a weakened structure because of vandalism and theft of some metal rungs that were engineered to support the tower and keep it in place. The power lines fell across the busy N4 highway pulling down several pylons and leaving at least 40 suburbs in the dark.

The city was in chaos, large parts of the highway were closed as engineers rushed to the scene to troubleshoot the incident. This was an absolute disaster, and I was expecting to be without power for the next few days, it takes a problem such as this or discomfort of some sort to push you out of your comfort zone. It is here where we spend far too much of our time, it is only when we step out of the comfort zone that our brain cells switch on and we start thinking.

Looking for ways to relieve our discomfort, we start problem solving, thinking on our feet, and finding ways to make things better. You want to boil a cup of tea, finish watching the Sunday night movie or wrap up the last few chapters in your book, how are you going to do this?

You might get up and go and find a torch, reach for the light on your mobile phone, you might be lucky enough to have some Magneto lamps positioned throughout your home, perhaps you hire or invest in a generator, install some energy saving light bulbs or climb in your car to head across town to visit a friend or family member where the lights are still on.

Maybe you decide to check into an Airbnb, have a hot shower and get some work done, or better yet decide to take some leave and recharge your batteries. You can light a fire, braai some meat and enjoy socialising with friends. If you are one of the lucky ones who have enough surplus funds available, you might even dip your hand into your pocket and install solar panels on your roof and get off the grid completely.

Whatever option you choose is as a direct result of your thinking, which wouldn’t have happened if you were seated on the couch with your feet up binge-watching Netflix. If you’re in the dark, switch the lights on, figuratively speaking, plan, flex your brain muscle and make it stronger than it was before.

Imagine how much you could achieve if you switched the lights on before you’re in the dark by making thinking a part of your daily routine?

Perhaps in South Africa we could see a positive economic growth in future if criminals would leave our lights on and start switching on their own, finding more productive ways to embrace creativity and make a living instead of vandalising electricity towers for a quick buck. Companies would prosper and grow creating more jobs, so that people don’t have to be labelled as criminals.

Perhaps businesses should start buying ideas instead of stolen copper wires and bits of steel?

Embracing Creativity

Back to the chaos on the N4 highway, within hours the lights were back on in certain suburbs, the engineers had decided to replace the fallen pylons with a newer innovation, locally manufactured monopoles. The monopoles are 23m high and have concrete bases which make them more resistant to not only vandalism but harsh weather conditions as well. They have a quicker installation time, are durable and long lasting, and require only minimal maintenance.

For now, the lights are back on! Do we sit back and relax or is it time to keep our lights switched on, embrace creativity and step out of the comfort zone before we’re in the dark again?

In the face of darkness and chaos, our ability to adapt and think creatively shines through. The power outage that plunged us into the unknown served as a catalyst for problem-solving and resourcefulness. We discovered alternative ways to navigate our daily routines, from utilising simple tools like torches and mobile phone lights to exploring more sustainable options like solar panels. This experience reminds us of the power of our own thinking and the potential for innovation in even the most challenging circumstances.

Perhaps it is time for a broader shift, where communities foster an environment that embraces creativity, where criminals channel their energies into constructive pursuits, and where businesses invest in ideas rather than stolen resources. The swift replacement of fallen pylons with resilient, locally manufactured monopoles demonstrates the capacity for innovation to overcome adversity. As the lights come back on, let us not merely bask in the temporary relief, but rather keep our lights switched on—both literally and figuratively—by continually stepping out of our comfort zones and embracing a culture of creative problem-solving. By doing so, we can navigate the darkness with resilience, illuminate new pathways, and shape a brighter future for ourselves and our communities.

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