Seeing Unseen Solutions

April 27, 2011

I recently closed a speech with this challenge: “You can live each day in a world filled with “problems,” or rise each morning and embrace a world filled with unseen solutions… eager for you to find them. The decision is yours… both worlds exist. The one you choose is the one you will create.”

Afterwards, during a Q&A session, a young man remarked, “Your presentation was awesome, but how do you go about seeing unseen solutions?” What a great question! In a nutshell, here’s my answer:

Seeing “unseen solutions” starts by believing they exist. This is fundamental. Without this belief and a willingness to suspend our judgment and remain open to new possibilities, unseen solutions remain just that–unseen.

Secondly, when one appears, we need to accept it. That’s right… unseen solutions try to get our attention on a regular basis, but we’re too busy working and living to notice. Because most potential solutions dwell on the edge of our perception, we usually overlook, ignore, or dismiss them. Occasionally, a potential solution is so persistent; we can’t help but catch a glimpse of it. When this happens, we briefly acknowledge it, believing we’ll remember it. But when we try recalling it, we discover it’s gone… or parts are missing.

While some solutions appear all at once, most come in small flashes that strike us when we least expect it… when we’re reading, taking a shower, on a walk, exercising or daydreaming. These flashes are fleeting gifts! We all receive them, but few take them seriously. To quote my late grandfather, “When God whispers in your ear, pay attention.” Read more

Write It Down!

October 3, 2009

So Many Journals

According to what I’ve read and experienced, people who write down their goals have a greater chance of reaching them. I believe the same holds true for people who write down their creative thoughts and ideas. The chance of discovering creative solutions that work successfully increases significantly.

Creative ideas are fleeting gifts. The question isn’t whether you have them (everyone does), but whether you take these gifts seriously and record them. Since we never know where or when they’ll strike us (walking, sleeping, shaving…), it’s important to be prepared at all times.

A few months back, while taking a shower, I was struck by a childhood event that involved a broken plastic baseball bat. It came out of left field (no pun intended) and started connecting to a plethora of today’s so called “problems.” Read more

Symbols

October 1, 2009

"I’ve found kids labeled “slow” or “gifted” often travel in the same direction but at different speeds. “Average” kids move in a predictable direction at a moderate speed… making them easier to teach."

I’ve found kids labeled 'slow' or 'gifted' often travel in the same direction but at different speeds. 'Average' kids move in a predictable direction at a moderate speed… this makes them easier to teach.

Which Label Best Describes You?

Hopefully your answer is, “None of the above.”

Seeing this “Slow Children” sign inspired me to create a couple more. We each attach our own meaning to words and labels—symbols. While symbols often stay the same, the meanings we attach to them are continually changing. When I was a kid, the word “gay” referred to being carefree or happy-go-lucky.

The swastika dates from the Neolithic period and  still appears today as a positive religious symbol in parts of India. In the western world it has become stigmatized and even taboo because of its usage by Nazi Germany.

Without physically changing, symbols carry different meanings based on what we attach to them.

Consider these five points…

  1. Symbols (words, labels, etc.) don’t define reality; we use them to try and express it.
  2. Symbols don’t provide meaning; observers do.
  3. All symbols continually change over time to serve a new purpose.
  4. While symbols can be helpful, they can also block us from seeing reality, solving problems, and creating new solutions.
  5. When it comes to kids (people), symbols (labels) don’t work so well.

Creating new solutions requires looking past old beliefs and representations of reality.

Momentum

September 27, 2009

Momentum is a powerful force.

Years ago, my son Paul’s little league team made it to the playoffs. The games were played at an upscale ballpark called “The Field of Dreams.”

Game Two was a night game. We were facing a tough team with a very competitive (and outspoken) coach. As the game progressed a mom asked me, “Do you know what inning it is… and the score?” After answering her, I asked a question that had been bugging me all season, “Why aren’t these wonderful scoreboards ever used?”

Since no one had an answer, and against my wife Anne’s advice, I decided to go find out. Above the concession stand were vacant announcer’s boxes—so I started there. A teenager working the concession counter confirmed my hunch. Read more

Big Megaphone

September 24, 2009

Big MegaphoneA big megaphone doesn’t make the message any truer… nor does it make it more important. It just makes the messenger louder.

On January 13, 1999, Michael Jordan announced his retirement from the NBA—for the second time. I worked with Michael on his book, Rare Air, but truthfully, I was too busy working to care about his first retirement—let alone his second.

For me, July 13th ended around 2 a.m. on July 14th with me sitting at my kitchen table, sleep deprived, having just finished concepts I had to present to a new client later that morning.

As I started off to bed I noticed the newspaper headline: MJ RETIRES!!! screaming across the front page. I opened it up and discovered this seemingly important news dominated many inside pages as well. Read more