If you want to continue growing your creativity and developing your ability to think in a solution-oriented way, it’s really important to stay open, aware and mentally “pliable”. Not rigid or fixed, in other words.
When you’re working on solving issues in your business or challenges that come up in your personal life, watch out for those moments when you’re absolutely sure that you “know” something to be true.
There are usually multiple paths, multiple solutions and different ways of approaching a situation.
Additionally, the more emotional your response is to a situation, the fewer paths you’ll be able to see. Emotion often “blinds” us.
I consider myself to be a good student of “thinking creatively and thinking out-of-the-box” but here’s a recent example of where I blindly followed someone else’s “truth”:
The Case of The Rusted Garden Hose
A few weeks ago, I needed to fill up a large container with water that was in my kitchen. I couldn’t use any sinks because the container was too large to fit under the sinks. The container was too heavy to move so I needed to find a way to bring water to the container.
I phoned up someone who was responsible for doing maintenance on the house that I’m renting and asked him what he usually does when he needs to fill up that container with water.
He told me to unscrew the hose from the rooftop terrace and hook it up to the hose outlet that was in the kitchen.
Ok, perfect! I didn’t even see that hose outlet. Great, I’ve got my solution!
I went upstairs to unhook the hose but I couldn’t unscrew it. It was screwed on very tight or possibly rusted. I wouldn’t be able to unscrew it without a wrench and maybe another tool that would give me more leverage.
So, I set off in my new direction, thinking that I had found the right solution to move forward. I asked the home owner if she had the tools I needed to unscrew that hose.
She told me that none of that was necessary. The rooftop terrace hose would reach the kitchen below since it’s an open-air kitchen.
The rooftop hose would reach the kitchen? Whaaaaat? Really? I was completely following the original advice/info given to me and so I didn’t bother to investigate further.
My truth was: I need to unscrew the hose and attach it to the kitchen hose outlet. I invested in an outside authority (because he had been doing maintenance on the house for several years and I assumed he knew the in’s and out’s of how everything works).
This little incident showed me that it’s very important to stay open to different solutions and open to new possibilities, even when other people are giving you information that seems valid and reasonable.
When we have a predetermined way of seeing and doing, we miss out on opportunities; we think we’re “stuck” when we actually still have options.
Here’s another example…
Being IN the Project Versus Being OUTSIDE of the Project
A few years ago, I walked into a room and saw a friend of mine trying to lift a large, new flatscreen TV out of its packing box. The box was full of those tiny “popcorn” packing protectors and he was trying to lift the TV out of the box without spilling a TON of these little styrofoam popcorn pieces on the floor.
To lift the TV out of the box was a one-person job. That wasn’t a problem. But to pick up hundreds of the styrofoam popcorn pieces would be a pain in the ass.
I watched from across the room for about 10 seconds while he was struggling to get the TV out of the box without spilling all the packing material on the floor.
I immediately saw a good solution:
I’ll hold the four box flaps straight up in an extended position to create a higher box while he lifts the TV out. The top part of the box would be just “empty air” to trap the popcorn pieces while he lifted the TV out of the box. It would create overflow space. Problem solved.
I should add that my friend is a really smart and creative person but at that moment, he didn’t see or suggest that solution. He might have seen that solution, given a bit more time though.
I walked into the room, viewing the situation from a fresh perspective, possibly with more objectivity and I quickly saw a good solution.
These are low-stake examples of blindly accepting truth, seeing something at face-value or not seeing solutions. If you practice this “beginner’s mind” (which is a Zen Buddhist concept) or open mind, this skill and habit will transfer over into your business, career, and personal life where the stakes are a lot higher.
Until next time!
Holding Your Feet to the Fire
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