Byron's Babbles

History’s Experiments

One of the great books I am reading right now is The Epigenetics Revolution by Nessa Carey. As an animal science guy, I have been fascinated with epigenetics for a long time. In fact, when I was teaching I had a grant project with Purdue University that included epigenetics. One of the lines in the book that really jumped out at me was, “History creates experiments.” This is so true. The book talked about research using birthweight, growth, and maturity patterns following a famine. Other fascinating research is also cited in the book. I just can’t get past this thought, however, of history creating experiments. That is really what history is.

This is why one of my favorite authors, Robert A. Caro told us that we should be reading biographies in order to learn from others. In many ways, what others have done before us were experiments. In fact my own country of the United States is often referred to as an experiment. It is so important to look at all aspects of our history in order to learn for the future.

Another one of my favorite authors, good friend, and just great person, Dr. Joseph Michelli used how leaders led during the onset of the global pandemic as a way to learn about leading in a crisis. His outstanding book, Stronger Through Adversity: World-Class Leaders Share Pandemic-Tested Lessons On Thriving During The Toughest Challenges is in the running for my top non fiction book of the year. Really, all of his books are about history’s experiments in entrepreneurial leadership. You should check out his work – I love it! His work always reminds me how important it is for us to come together as a global community and be learning from each other.

I wonder how many experiments history has created that we have not taken the time or even thought to do the research on. It’s really about using that outer loop in double loop learning – evaluating the learning, creating and sharing the knowledge, and building capacity. Thanks Nessa, Robert, and Joseph for reminding us that “history creates experiments” and the data set to learn from.

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