An old Italian lived alone in New Jersey. He wanted to plant his annual tomato garden, but it was very difficult work, as the ground was hard.
His only son, Vincent, who used to help him every year, had gone to prison a few months before. The old man wrote a letter to his son and described his predicament:
Dear Vincent, I am feeling pretty sad because it looks like I won’t be able to plant my tomato garden this year. I’m getting too old to be digging up a garden plot. I know if you were here my troubles would be over. I know you would be happy to dig the plot for me, like in the old days. Love, Papa.
A few days later he received a letter from his son.
Dear Papa: Don’t dig up that garden! That’s where we buried the bodies last fall … Love, Vinnie
At 4 a.m. the next morning, FBI agents and local police arrived and dug up the entire area. They didn’t find any bodies. They apologized to the old man and left.
The next day the old man received another letter from his son:
Dear Papa: Go ahead and plant the tomatoes now. That’s the best I could do under the circumstances. Love you, Vinnie.
[Author unknown, but greatly appreciated! If you or anyone you know has a proprietary interest in this story please authenticate and I will be happy to credit, or remove, as appropriate.]
Is necessity really the mother of invention? Do difficult situations inspire ingenious solutions? Can constraints foster creativity?
Perhaps the innovation recipe is having a problem, with a clear goal, and an urgent and challenging need …
Or perhaps it is simply love conquering all?