In school, some of my teachers would conduct brain storming sessions wherein they would present a problem and then listen as the students threw out ways of addressing it. Even when some of the methods suggested were silly, even when they may have gone against the laws of gravity, they were accepted and considered. The point of the exercise wasn’t necessarily to solve the problem, but to stimulate the creative juices. It was an early lesson in think outside the box.
We can apply this same principle in our everyday lives.
Be Your Own Think Tank. From corporate boardrooms to governments, many leaders have a team of advisors who help them find creative and valid solutions to real problems. Groups of experts gather together to toss out a variety of options for addressing a myriad of challenges, both large and small in scale.
Even if you don’t have a team of experts behind you, you can use this same approach to find solutions to your own challenges.
Sometimes referred to as spray and pray, the method of throwing out a number of possibilities is worth the effort. Even if most of the ideas don’t bear fruit, remember, it only takes one success to make a world of difference.
Here are a few things to keep in mind before you get started.
Write it down. Decide on the problem you want to solve and write it down at the top of a sheet of paper. This helps to focus the mind and start the mental ball rolling in the right direction.
Is it a real problem? Jose Silva cautioned students against using the powerful Silva tools for frivilous problems like finding a parking space. His philosophy was that if the brain only had silly issues to work on, it would eventually reject using the tools, and the ability to solve problems would be significantly reduced. Of course, he never lived in San Francisco.
The point is, the brain knows the difference between busy work and meaningful effort. It will eventually reject anything less than the latter. If we work on a real problem, we increase the chances of finding the perfect solution and finding it sooner than later.
Put it all on the table. Don’t eliminate any potential solution outright. Even if it seems silly, write it down. Worst case, after careful consideration, you cross it off the list. In giving everything at least a cursory consideration, you’re sending a strong message to your conscious and unconscious self that you’re serious about solving the problem. Which brings me to…
Do you want to solve it? Over the years I’ve been asked for advice on a variety of holistic matters. Occasionally, someone will return and tell me why their mother/best friend/coworker/ doctor says it won’t work. They honestly try to get me to defend my suggestions, which I don’t. Making a suggestion is just that – you can follow it – or not. And if you don’t? I don’t need to know.
Before you expend time and energy toward solving a problem, be sure you’re clear about wanting to solve it. I believe the mind will reject working on something you aren’t really motivated in solving. You’ll end up spinning your wheels.
Rules are made to be broken. Anyone who states it will never work should consider the history and evolution of physics. Several rules considered absolute were later broken.
Form a Group. The concept behind Napoleon Hill’s MasterMind Group is to create your own team of advisors to help solve problems. As little as one additional individual can potentially make all the difference in the world. Be sure your team is made up of members who share a similar and positive philosophy. Make sure there is a can do attitude when it comes to solving problems.
However, I wouldn’t use going solo as an excuse not to brainstorm your way to a solution.