The Origins of LIT

Unveiling 'Lit': Tracing the Roots and Origins

I am a classic case of not supposed to be here

Most people would not have expected me to get this far. I started off as a young kid in rural Canada, facing enormous challenges from the education system. My teacher wanted to hold me back in the 2nd grade, and I was labeled as ‘lazy,’ a ‘lost cause,’ and a ‘troublemaker.’ I felt misplaced and misunderstood.

Looking at my accomplishments, one might think I have it all together, but I have struggled with ADHD and learning differences from as early as I can remember. I was destined to fall through the cracks of life. It was rough, to say the least. I wouldn’t be here without the unwavering and profound support of my parents and some truly inspirational educators. My mom became an incredible advocate for me and pushed the school board to recognize my learning difference.

The truth is, the struggle persists. But along the way, I’ve harnessed and refined tools, which I’ve affectionately nicknamed LIT (Life Ignition Tools), inspired by nature and backed by science. Initially, these tools were my lifeline, essential for survival in the face of adversity. Over time, they have evolved beyond mere survival mechanisms. They have become powerful instruments that allow me to tune into the essence of what it means to be human, enabling me to not only survive but thrive. Through these tools, I’ve embarked on a transformative journey towards maximizing mental health and wellness, discovering the boundless potential within to live a life full of purpose and joy.

By becoming my own scientific experiment at the age of seven, I gradually learned how to nurture my creativity and find solutions to problems by tapping into my brain’s neuroplasticity – which reflects our intrinsic link to nature – it’s how our brain adapts and evolved in response to our environment and our thoughts, emotions, and actions. By immersing myself in the wisdom of the natural world, I learned how to find solace in its restorative embrace. LIT can illuminate how we can turn to nature to jumpstart our imaginations. It helps us look to nature as a vital source of humankind’s best wisdom, most inspired action, and greatest good.

LIT is not just for people starting from zero with an intention, overcoming inertia and all that, but really anywhere you are on the continuum just wanting to open up the space for the next step. It’s got such positive energy around it.

We are all capable of much more than we realize! It’s all about finding our own ways, our own systems by engaging sparks that ignite and energize us. I strongly believe LIT has the potential to empower every individual to unleash higher levels of personal and professional creativity, innovation, and ultimately a deeper sense of purpose.

Most people would not have expected me to get this far. I started off as a young kid in rural Canada, facing enormous challenges from the education system. My teacher wanted to hold me back in the 2nd grade, and I was labeled as ‘lazy,’ a ‘lost cause,’ and a ‘troublemaker.’ I felt misplaced and misunderstood.

Looking at my accomplishments, one might think I have it all together, but I have struggled with ADHD and learning differences from as early as I can remember. I was destined to fall through the cracks of life. It was rough, to say the least. I wouldn't be here without the unwavering and profound support of my parents and some truly inspirational educators. My mom became an incredible advocate for me and pushed the school board to recognize my learning difference.

The truth is, the struggle persists. But along the way, I've harnessed and refined tools, which I've affectionately nicknamed LIT (Life Ignition Tools), inspired by nature and backed by science. Initially, these tools were my lifeline, essential for survival in the face of adversity. Over time, they have evolved beyond mere survival mechanisms. They have become powerful instruments that allow me to tune into the essence of what it means to be human, enabling me to not only survive but thrive. Through these tools, I've embarked on a transformative journey towards maximizing mental health and wellness, discovering the boundless potential within to live a life full of purpose and joy.

By becoming my own scientific experiment at the age of seven, I gradually learned how to nurture my creativity and find solutions to problems by tapping into my brain’s neuroplasticity – which reflects our intrinsic link to nature – it’s how our brain adapts and evolved in response to our environment and our thoughts, emotions, and actions. By immersing myself in the wisdom of the natural world, I learned how to find solace in its restorative embrace. LIT can illuminate how we can turn to nature to jumpstart our imaginations. It helps us look to nature as a vital source of humankind’s best wisdom, most inspired action, and greatest good.

Climates are constantly changing, sea levels, forest fires are altering our landscapes, animals are migrating. Over the course of evolution, patterns always change, nothing stays the same – it’s the same in our lives – evolution is all about taking cues from our ever-changing environment and adapting. If we don’t adapt to our changing environment, we wither or die. Consider our organizations – why Blockbuster Video didn’t invent Netflix. Because they didn’t adapt to the changing environment. It’s the same for Kodak, Sony Walkman, Polaroid, and RadioShack. They got stuck and didn’t notice and act on the disconnects with their evolving environment. They lacked interconnection! As individuals, we navigate a constantly changing environment – social, cultural, relational, and natural. To avoid getting stuck in our routines, we need to cultivate an interconnected mindset. Just as a persistent river, carving its way through rock over eons, reshapes the landscape, so too can we transform ourselves by embracing the constant flow of life and our connection to it.

LIT is not just for people starting from zero with an intention, overcoming inertia and all that, but really anywhere you are on the continuum just wanting to open up the space for the next step. It’s got such positive energy around it.

I couldn’t help but think about everything I wanted to do in my life in terms of the energy needed – most things require more energy than I had to offer. Thus, lowering the activation energy became core to LIT because it’s an incredibly useful strategy to create positive forward momentum. Consider just one thing, to lower the ‘activation energy’ for engagement which almost always brings some kind of satisfaction – that’s something you can build on.

You might be able to build out on that the next day, or even maintaining something might be the one thing, and it can be really helpful in relationships as well, whether they’ve hit a rough patch or they’re sailing along beautifully. What one thing, just a small thing, could you do in that space to open it up with the intention and heart that you want to bring to it? Unconditionally.

We are all capable of much more than we realize! It’s all about finding our own ways, our own systems by engaging sparks that ignite and energize us. I strongly believe LIT has the potential to empower every individual to unleash higher levels of personal and professional creativity, innovation, and ultimately a deeper sense of purpose.

including Nobel laureates, Olympic medalists, social justice leaders, an indigenous leader, celebrated artists, and multiple scientists, CEOs, and inventors, not with fixed instructions but with flexible tools meant for you to personalize and enhance.

LIT has also helped me become an effective mentor and educator, empowering and deeply caring for others. It was instrumental in my advancement to Full Professor at Harvard Medical School, spin out 13 companies whose products have helped many patients and are undergoing clinical trials to assist more, secure a chaired faculty position at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, become a member of the National Academy of Inventors, and achieve citations on my research representing the top 0.1% globally.”

Through using LIT tools I went from earning C’s and D’s in my classes to earning a PhD in Chemical and Biomedical Engineering from the University of Toronto and completing a postdoctoral fellowship in stem cells and advanced biomaterials at MIT. Today, I am a professor at Harvard Medical School. My lab focuses on accelerating the process of medical problem solving; we have developed a tissue adhesive to repair the heart inspired by slugs, a diagnostic for cancer based on the tentacles of jellyfish, and surgical staples based on the quills of a porcupine.

Currently, LIT is powering my journey of observation – disentangling myself from the intricate web of social norms and cultural expectations. I am energized to wake up to my role as steward of consciousness – to ensure my energy and the energy I seek aligns with core values and deep meaningful purpose.

Nature serves as our playbook because its patterns are a dynamic guide. For example, transitioning from land to water, whales were originally land dwelling animals that underwent a dramatic transformation, with their limbs evolving into fins—a vivid demonstration of evolution's extraordinary adaptability. Climates are constantly changing, sea levels, forest fires are altering our landscapes, animals are migrating. Over the course of evolution, patterns always change, nothing stays the same – it’s the same in our lives – evolution is all about taking cues from our ever-changing environment and adapting. If we don’t adapt to our changing environment, we wither or die. Consider our organizations – why Blockbuster Video didn’t invent Netflix. Because they didn’t adapt to the changing environment. It’s the same for Kodak, Sony Walkman, Polaroid, and RadioShack. They got stuck and didn’t notice and act on the disconnects with their evolving environment. They lacked interconnection! As individuals, we navigate a constantly changing environment – social, cultural, relational, and natural. To avoid getting stuck in our routines, we need to cultivate an interconnected mindset. Just as a persistent river, carving its way through rock over eons, reshapes the landscape, so too can we transform ourselves by embracing the constant flow of life and our connection to it.

Through a highly iterative process, I designed LIT for everyone – It’s a library of tools, or you might consider them as ‘on-ramps’ to spark simple next steps ✨ LIT is not just for people starting from zero with an intention, overcoming inertia and all that, but really anywhere you are on the continuum just wanting to open up the space for the next step. It’s got such positive energy around it.

Over 30 years ago, I learned about the concept of Activation Energy in high school – the amount of energy required for a reaction to take place. I couldn’t help but think about everything I wanted to do in my life in terms of the energy needed – most things require more energy than I had to offer. Thus, lowering the activation energy became core to LIT because it’s an incredibly useful strategy to create positive forward momentum. Consider just one thing, to lower the ‘activation energy’ for engagement which almost always brings some kind of satisfaction – that’s something you can build on.

It’s about feeling good about yourself having found and done that one thing. You might be able to build out on that the next day, or even maintaining something might be the one thing, and it can be really helpful in relationships as well, whether they’ve hit a rough patch or they’re sailing along beautifully. What one thing, just a small thing, could you do in that space to open it up with the intention and heart that you want to bring to it? Unconditionally.

Through my experiences and struggles, I learned that we all possess the power to ignite our lives, no matter our starting point. We are all capable of much more than we realize! It’s all about finding our own ways, our own systems by engaging sparks that ignite and energize us. I strongly believe LIT has the potential to empower every individual to unleash higher levels of personal and professional creativity, innovation, and ultimately a deeper sense of purpose.

I often find myself caught in seemingly endless loops and patterns that don’t serve me. Thus, I crafted Life Ignition Tools as a dynamic toolkit for taking myself (and hopefully you) off of autopilot and finding ways to step into the full potential of every moment. The bottom line is, if I can do it — find a way to navigate this incredibly bumpy ride and enjoy the path — anyone can! When we are LIT, we are unstoppable!

LIT draws from my experiences and those of 40 others — including Nobel laureates, Olympic medalists, social justice leaders, an indigenous leader, celebrated artists, and multiple scientists, CEOs, and inventors, not with fixed instructions but with flexible tools meant for you to personalize and enhance.

LIT has helped me to recognize possibilities beyond plain sight, to experience the world through multiple lenses and embrace gratitude as a guiding principle, and to transform my relationships with my family, friends, and the natural world through an interconnected mindset. LIT has also helped me become an effective mentor and educator, empowering and deeply caring for others. It was instrumental in my advancement to Full Professor at Harvard Medical School, spin out 13 companies whose products have helped many patients and are undergoing clinical trials to assist more, secure a chaired faculty position at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, become a member of the National Academy of Inventors, and achieve citations on my research representing the top 0.1% globally.”