The case of the Soviet pencil

Today we're looking at whether we are making things harder on ourselves than they need be. Are we guilty of unintentionally overcomplicating? 

Let's look at the story of the Space Pencil. 

In the 1960's NASA we're going all in on the exploration of space. The space race was on. However, what they discovered was that while the astronauts we're off floating around in space they couldn't use a pen to record their work or findings.. pens don't work in zero gravity.


So, allegedly in an attempt to fix the issue they employed a man called Paul C Fisher to design a pen that would do the job. Millions of dollars were spent, countless trials were undertaken and eventually, the Fisher Space Pen was brought into existence. At last! A tool that could be used to record arguably the most important findings of our time. 


But, the Soviets were also in the running to discover space. It was all about who was getting there first. So what did they do in response to this seemingly magnificent breakthrough? They didn't waste time developing fancy pens. They didn't spend millions on research either they just used...

A pencil. 

You've got to laugh, I mean how much truth is in this urban legend who really knows? (The Fisher Space Pen is an actual thing) the point is sometimes it's difficult to see the wood for the trees, isn't it? 

Where are you spending time researching, developing, worrying and digging into something which could be easily solved with the proverbial pencil? Can you take a step back from a problem and see it more simply? You might just be surprised. 

We're all guilty of it, me most definitely included but when I read this little story it really made me think. Simplicity is key in business and in life. Be careful not to discount an idea because it seems too simple to be true, consider the advantages of moving in short, straight lines as opposed to running around in circles leaving big fat red squiggly lines everywhere. 

Our brains actually make us think that the NASA approach is best because we live in a society where complexity is seen as innovative, struggle is seen to be indicative of success and frustration leads to great breakthroughs.

I call bullshit. 

Simplicity is key. This is where the ease is and from that place, you can flourish and grow, space and peace allows for all of that. 

In a world of fancy ass pens be the Soviet pencil. 

Tricia ScottComment