Sunday Snippet: Ole Kirk Christiansen, Founder of LEGO (1891-1958)

“Life is a gift, but it’s more than just that. Life is a challenge.”

There are many fancy electronic toys these days, but there has always been and will always be a special fascination with physically manipulating your environment with your hands. And for kids young and old, LEGO is one of the best way to do this. The bucket of plastic bricks represents a world of possibility. Do you want to build a town? A pirate ship? A sports car?

The great thing about LEGO is that it combines so many great qualities in such a seemingly simple package. You can explore the limits of your imagination. That’s a gift. But you can also challenge yourself to make those ideas into a physical reality. There is a reason why LEGO has had such an enduring appeal and why it is the world’s largest tire manufacturer today; those plastic cars need tires too.

And maybe it is partly because of Law of Jante that most people have never heard of Ole Kirk Christiansen, but we all know and adore LEGO. He never took anything for granted and he recognized that the only way to honor the gift of life was to challenge himself and push himself to do better.

Indeed, Ole Kirk Christiansen came from very humble beginnings. He grew up in a large, but poor family. He lost his job during the depression in the 1930s. When his wife died, he was left to raise his four sons on his own. He thought he was onto something with his small wooden toys and then the factory suffered an unfortunate fire. He had to rebuild. Again. To say that he faced hardships would be an understatement, but he persevered and strove to be better.

“Only the best is good enough.”

Play teaches you how to figure things out through experimentation. What problem can you solve? What other combination can you attempt? It is through the mindset of LEGO that we have Minecraft and 3D printing today. We dare not only to dream, but also to try making our dreams a reality.

I have two videos that I’d like to share. The first is a 17-minute animated documentary on how LEGO came to be what it is today. It’s a great story. The second is the official trailer for the upcoming movie, appropriately titled The LEGO Movie. That will be “assembling” on February 7th of next year.