What You Can Learn From a Lincoln Log

by Jason Kotecki on · 4 comments


Are you Hall of Fame material?

Go ahead, think about it. Are you?

While you’re mulling that over, let me ask you another ques­tion: Did you know that there is a National Toy Hall of Fame? It’s true. As you might imag­ine, it fea­tures things like Lin­coln Logs, the Hula Hoop, the Slinky, and even the multi-talented card­board box.

What makes a toy Hall of Fame wor­thy? Well, it turns out there are four cri­te­ria:

  • Icon-status: The toy is widely rec­og­nized, respected, and remembered
  • Longevity: The toy is more than a pass­ing fad and has enjoyed pop­u­lar­ity over mul­ti­ple generations
  • Dis­cov­ery: The toy fos­ters learn­ing, cre­ativ­ity, or dis­cov­ery through play
  • Inno­va­tion: The toy pro­foundly changed play or toy design. A toy may be inducted on the basis of this cri­te­rion with­out nec­es­sar­ily hav­ing met all of the first three.

Undoubt­edly, Lin­coln Logs clear all four hur­dles. But what about us? We’re not toys. What, if any­thing, can peo­ple learn about great­ness from Hall of Fame cal­iber toys? Quite a bit, it turns out. The four cri­te­ria can be help­ful in mea­sur­ing our great­ness as well.

Let’s start with “Icon Sta­tus.” When your time on Earth is over, will you be widely rec­og­nized, respected, and remem­bered? Keep in mind we’re not talk­ing about fame here. I know teach­ers that are beloved icons in the mid­dle school at which they teach, even though they may be com­pletely unknown a few school dis­tricts over.

What about “Longevity?” Any­body can have a good day, a good week, or even a good year. The greats show up year after year. They are per­sis­tent, con­sis­tent, and stand the test of time. Are you in it for the long haul?

“Dis­cov­ery,” as it is used here, can be summed up in one word: empow­er­ment. You can build a mil­lion things with Lin­coln Logs. That’s what makes them great: they jump­start the imag­i­na­tion of the play­ers them­selves. Like­wise, we are great when we empower oth­ers to be great.

What’s inter­est­ing about “Inno­va­tion” is that it’s such a big deal that a toy can get in on the basis of inno­va­tion alone, even if it doesn’t meet the other three cri­te­ria. This is because it’s so hard to do. Inno­va­tion is rare, but not because it’s unreach­able. You have the poten­tial to pro­foundly change the world YOU live in. But in order to do so requires immense courage and brav­ery. You have to be will­ing to chal­lenge con­ven­tional wis­dom, buck the sta­tus quo, and take a stand with­out any guar­an­tee that any­one will fol­low you. (Most likely, they won’t, at least at first.)

Back to the ques­tion about you being Hall of Fame mate­r­ial. The answer, of course, is yes. A mil­lion times YES. You are.

Don’t be fooled by the fact that there prob­a­bly isn’t an actual Hall of Fame in your area of gift­ed­ness. That doesn’t dis­qual­ify you from being one of the all-time greats. What would it take to be a Hall of Fame teacher? Nurse? Team Leader? Cub Scout Leader? Jan­i­tor? Mom? Grand­par­ent? Snow Plow Driver?

Refuse to set­tle for aver­age. Regard­less of what you believe or may have been taught, the seeds of great­ness are within you. Your fam­ily, your col­leagues, and your com­mu­nity need you to share that greatness.


Let the Lin­coln Log be your guide.

by Jason Kotecki

Jason Kotecki is an artist, author, and pro­fes­sional speaker. Jason and his wife Kim (a for­mer kinder­garten teacher) make it their mis­sion in life to fight Adul­ti­tis and help peo­ple use strate­gies from child­hood to design lives with less stress and more fun. Stop by www.KimandJason.com for more tips for escap­ing adulthood.
Jason Kotecki
View all posts by Jason Kotecki

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