Join The Dots

Today I want to tell you about a truly remarkable woman who, as far as I know, has nothing to do with the Alexander Technique.

Her name is Jenny Clack, and she is an eminent professor of palaeontology (ie. someone who studies fossils), who I came across in a great BBC program called “Beautiful Minds”.   She has a track record for solving puzzles that have kept the best palaeontologists guessing for decades.

However, the part of her story that caught my eye was the start of her hunt for Acanthostega(*).  This fossil had eluded palaeontologists for years, until Professor Clack thought to chat to a bunch of guys who spend their entire careers digging up bits of rock.  Geologists.  Turned out they had exactly the rock, with exactly the fossil, and a notebook with exactly the location.

I don’t want to minimise the skill, knowledge, tact and dedication that raised an expedition, carried out the research and published the results.  I do want to point out how small and simple was the process that started it.

She took a series of small and obvious facts, and linked them up.  Something like:-

  • I need a fossil
  • It will be hiding in a rock somewhere
  • Geologists also poke around in rocks all day
  • They may have something useful lying in a drawer

Bingo.  Each fact by itself wasn’t much help.  Once she joined the dots, she had something she could use.

We can all join the dots in our own life.  We can all create useful solutions and insights when we link up little bits of our life that were separate.   Even things that seem unconnected.

Here’s a quiz to practice your Join The Dots skills.  Someone once wrote:
“Knowledge is of little use in itself; it is the linking up of what we know with that which comes to us daily in the shape of new ideas and new experiences which is of value.”
Want to take a guess who that someone was?(**)

(*) her website gives the technical details; it doesn’t convey, at least to non-scientists like me, just how important her discoveries are.
(**) It is, of course, FM Alexander, in Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual, Part 2, Chapter 1 IRDEAT edition p.287.

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CNHC and ITM registered Alexander Technique teacher.

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