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
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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Kelly Sajonia February 13, 2013 at 7:14 am

As always, a great post Jason!
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Jason of Kim & Jason February 13, 2013 at 1:54 pm

Thanks Kelly, I appreciate it! 🙂
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Lori Gosselin February 15, 2013 at 1:56 pm

🙂 This is so nice! I wanna be in the hall of fame Jason! I refuse to be average or ordinary! I love how innovation can stand alone.
I’m inspired by this post – a great job!
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Jason of Kim & Jason February 15, 2013 at 5:28 pm

Good for you, Lori. Average is easy (everybody’s doing it) 🙂
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