Category Archives: Think Differently

Just Build It!

I am constantly looking forward to the weekend. Not just because I have two days away from work. It’s because my weekends are filled with multiple visits to The Home Depot. And I love it! Walking through the never-ending aisles with all of those tools and materials reaching out as far as my eyes can see. Each time I’m inspired to build some thing new. A product that’s never existed in this world before.

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Don’t Mess with Einstein

Einstein problem quoteEinstein said that if he had only one hour to save the world he would spend the first fifty-five minutes defining the problem and the last five minutes finding the solution. The reasoning behind this is simple: the better we understand a problem, the closer we’ll be to finding a solution. And one of the best ways to move towards clarity is to examine the long-held assumptions that we’ve accepted as fact.

The key here is the engagment of our intention. Specifically, how can we intentionally recognize our assumptions (or beliefs)? What we need to do is become cognizant of our beliefs and challenge them. It’s a fascinating process. It won’t take long to realize that we’ve built a whole mental landscape based on them. We may discover that some assumptions do not work for us any longer and need to be updated or even abandoned completely.

The problem is that we’ve given too much control to our assumptions. We’ve been operating on automatic pilot ever since. Let’s get ourselves back in the driver’s seat. To do this we’ll need to expose and challenge our assumptions. Once we identify that pesky assumption, we need to ask ourselves “what would be the worst thing that could happen to me if I let it go right now?”

For example, let’s say that over the years we’ve built ourselves a nice comfortable assumption about how we don’t need to give our opinion at team meetings or during conference calls since we have nothing valuable to offer the group. So we sit there and watch the activity from the sidelines. Since we don’t expect to contribute to the discussion we allow our attention to drift. Soon we’re lost in a daydream and completely disassociated from the group. Not a good career move.

Then one day we wake up and decide thatwe don’t want to be a bystander anymore. We challenge our  assumption and imagine what are the worst things that could happen if we began to speak up. Here’s what you may come up with (your reaction is in parenthesis):

1. Everyone ignores me (loss of self-confidence)

2. People listen to me and then dismiss my opinion (feelings of humiliation and shame)

3. People listen to me and vehemently disagree with my opinion (feelings of defeat and failure)

Well at least we know where we stand. And best of all, we’re back in control. We’ve identified the negative feelings that have formed the basis of our assumption. Now we can make a decision on how to move forward.

(Hint: Many times it’s not what we say that people respond to, but the way we say it or present ourselves. In that case, Toastmasters can help us find our authoritative voice and engaging presentation style).

The Ever-Expanding Box

It feels good to question the way things are. As we search for answers, we define a world for ourselves. Notice I said “a world” and not “the world”. That’s because each of us are creating our own reality. The world “out there” is enormous and may make us feel small when we comprehend things from our own limited viewpoint.

Many people feel uncomfortable when their world view is questioned. They feel grounded, safe and in control of their lives. Nothing’s wrong with wanting to feel that way. The problem arises when we think we know everything and stop asking questions. At that point we cut ourselves off from experiencing new things. We create a box to live in and lock ourselves in. We become so sure of ourselves that nothing comes in and nothing goes out.

I say it’s all a delusion. We can never create a big enough box to contain our whole world. I’m not saying it’s wrong to create the box. I’m saying that we must remember to allow the box to expand beyond the limits of what we know now. There are always new things to see, new places to visit, new people to meet.

By opening ourselves up to new experiences, we remind ourselves that the way we understand the world is only one of 7 billion unique approaches. It feels good to know that it’s our way but not the only way.

The flip side is that when we see ourselves as just one of masses, we can feel small and unimportant. That’s when our ego awakes. It tells us that we are important and special. It may even want us to close the box. That’s the little voice we must learn to ignore. We must remain inquisitive. This is when your Creative Warrior must kick the box open and go out to explore the wonders of the world.

© 2014 Seth Greenwald