Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Become A Better Problem Solver

Some of the world’s best ideas have come from linking insights from fields that don’t seem connected.

The tabulating machine (a punch card powered computer) was inspired by silk factories where cards with holes created patterns in the fabric. And Henry Ford got the idea for a car assembly line after he thought about modernizing a meatpacking plant by adding large sewing machines.

Both Henry Ford and the inventor of the tabulating machine were generalists. People with a large skill set that enabled them to see patterns in places where specialists saw nothing.

It obviously helped that these two inventors were incredibly smart, but you don’t need to be a member of Mensa to connect seemingly unrelated dots.

You just need to understand how you think.

When most of us are faced with a problem, we simply furrow our brows and look for a solution. And with some luck we’ll find one.

Creative people have two modes of attack.

Depending on the situation, they may throw brainpower at the problem just like before. But when the issue is more complex, they’ll look for strategies that lead to many solutions.

An example.

Suppose you own a free-standing house and are locked out.

How do you get in?

You could call a locksmith. Kick in the door. Hit yourself in the head for not hiding a spare key in a fake rock.

Or you could go around and step through the unlocked door in the back.

I know, not fair. You didn’t know you were a terrible homeowner that welcomed burglars.

But the example still stands: most people will fixate on one aspect of the problem and lose sight of the rest.

Then they get stuck.

To get unstuck you want to go around and look for other strategies, no matter how silly they may seem at the time.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach