Starting Fires = Oxygen + Heat + Fuel + Something else / by Brooks Watson

I love to start things. I’ve finished my share, but no doubt, there were several flash in the pan ideas too. I thought I had the right stuff, but looking back, my formulas were off.

Another problem: I tended to focus on what I couldn’t control, instead of what I could. An even bigger distraction… why were other people’s businesses burning bright while I couldn’t muster more than a flash? Answer: There’s was something missing; something intangible. 

Let’s talk Fire Science. Yes, it’s a thing. So, what is “Fire”? Fire is the rapid oxidation of combustible materials, resulting in heat and light. For a long time the ingredients needed to create a fire were known as the Fire Triangle: Oxygen, Heat & Fuel. It turns out though that if you have the right amount of oxygen, heat and fuel, those three will just get you a flash, but not a free-burning fire.

What was missing? An “uninhibited chemical chain reaction”. This is the chemistry that turn flash into fire. It’s like the flash goes viral. It’s not guaranteed at all. It happens when it’s ready. Sometimes it doesn’t happen. In fact it mostly doesn’t happen. Oxygen, Heat and Fuel are everywhere. If that’s all it took, the world would be ablaze. 

Such is business life. We’re overwhelmed with success stories. Simple ideas that changed the world, or at least made people famous. Why not me too? If I look at business success through the filter of fire-starting, I am left with this: Most people are trying to make fire with two sticks. This works, but it takes time… and the right sticks. If I’m waiting for a zippo to start my fire, I may be waiting a long time. Most success stories start with sticks too. Whatever my goal, I should focus on what I can control, find the combination of ingredients that give me the spark, and then repeat. If it’s a good idea, that “something else” will appear in time.