How to Fly a Horse Book Summary - How to Fly a Horse Book explained in key points
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How to Fly a Horse summary

Kevin Ashton

The Secret History of Creation, Invention and Discovery

4.1 (18 ratings)
13 mins

Brief summary

How to Fly a Horse by Kevin Ashton explores the creative process, debunking the myth that genius is born, not made. It highlights the hard work, persistence, and failures that go into creating something truly great.

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    How to Fly a Horse
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    Creativity isn’t the result of genius, but of the ordinary process of thinking about how to overcome a problem.

    How many times have you heard that Mozart was a genius, composing complete symphonies in his head before putting them to paper? Or that great inventors were somehow radically different from the rest of us?

    These are myths, plain and simple. In fact, no creator is fundamentally different from you or me.

    The creativity myth preaches that few are chosen for creative greatness, and that their success relies on magical flashes of genius insight.

    But if you actually look at the life of any genius, it’s not superiority and spontaneous inspiration that will highlight their success, but careful thinking.

    Take Archimedes, the person who first cried out “Eureka!”, and who is credited with discovering the properties of density. When taking a bath, he noticed that the water rose and fell again as he entered and exited the tub. In short, Archimedes realized that water displacement could be used to measure volume.

    But he didn’t immediately relate this finding to density. Rather, it came after a long period of thinking about the problem and trying to develop solutions for it.

    In fact, the act of creating itself is little more than simply thinking about how to solve a problem – something we all do.

    Many experiments have demonstrated this to be true, such as psychologist Karl Duncker’s Box Experiment. In the experiment, Duncker asked subjects to attach a candle to a wooden door using only the candle, a book of matches and a box of tacks. He discovered that there are three solutions – melting wax to fix the candle, tacking the candle to the door, and finally, emptying the box of tacks, tacking it to the door and placing the candle inside – and that the processes of arriving at these solutions were the same for each person who attempted them.

    For example, everybody who thought of tacking the box of tacks to the door went through the same thought process: eliminating other ideas, thinking about building a platform with the tacks and then considering using the box as a platform.

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    What is How to Fly a Horse about?

    How to Fly a Horse (2015) delves into the process of creation and ultimately discovers that the very act itself is far more ordinary than we often think. In fact, in building upon the creative work of generations of thinkers, anyone can create, as long as they have the grit and determination to do so.

    How to Fly a Horse Review

    How to Fly a Horse (2015) by Kevin Ashton is an inspiring exploration of creativity and innovation. Here's why reading this book is a worthwhile journey:

    • With its real-life examples and compelling stories, it sheds light on how ordinary people can achieve extraordinary feats through hard work and perseverance.
    • The book provides valuable insights into the creative process and the importance of embracing failure as a stepping stone to success.
    • Through its exploration of diverse fields and the contributions of various inventors and artists, it highlights the universal nature of creativity and its essential role in our lives.

    Best quote from How to Fly a Horse

    Creating is not magic, but work.

    —Kevin Ashton
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    Who should read How to Fly a Horse?

    • Anyone lacking the confidence to follow through with a new idea
    • Anyone interested in the process of creation

    About the Author

    As co-founder of the Auto-ID center at MIT, Kevin Ashton pioneered a new generation of computing which he calls the “Internet of Things.” In addition to speaking about innovation and technology, Ashton has led many successful technology start-ups and some interesting social experiments.

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    How to Fly a Horse FAQs 

    What is the main message of How to Fly a Horse?

    The main message of How to Fly a Horse is that creativity is not exclusive to a select few, but can be cultivated and achieved by anyone.

    How long does it take to read How to Fly a Horse?

    The reading time for How to Fly a Horse varies depending on the reader, but it typically takes several hours to fully engage with the book. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is How to Fly a Horse a good book? Is it worth reading?

    How to Fly a Horse is a worthwhile read that sheds light on the creative process and provides valuable insights on innovation. It is definitely worth your time.

    Who is the author of How to Fly a Horse?

    The author of How to Fly a Horse is Kevin Ashton.

    What to read after How to Fly a Horse?

    If you're wondering what to read next after How to Fly a Horse, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
    • The Surrender Experiment by Michael A. Singer
    • Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
    • Material World by Ed Conway
    • Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono