“Pink Bat” Stairs

January 25, 2011

This short video is an excellent (and fun) example of “Pink Bat” thinking… turning “problems” into solutions. The perceived problem was the stairs… most people preferred using the escalator instead.

When we look past accepted labels, suspend our judgment, and tap into our creativity… a real world of possibilities emerges. Consider the “Pink Bat” elevator example… and to think it was also considered a problem! Are you surrounded by “problems”… or are they unseen solutions, just waiting for you to see them? The world we focus on is the world we create. Have fun turning problems into solutions.

Being Present

April 8, 2010

A mother and her two children were seated a few tables away from my wife and me last night at dinner. The mom looked to be in her late 30s, her son around 14, and her daughter a few years younger than him. Perhaps it was because we were sitting in the corner or maybe it was just an acoustical phenomenon of sorts, but despite the relatively loud music, we could hear their conversation—perfectly.

The mom’s remarks were short, but she seemed very focused on proper protocol… sit up straight, shut your mouth, sit still, leave your sister alone, use your fork, be quiet, ignore him, don’t speak that way… and so on. Then I glanced over to discover her real focus—a mobile phone. She was texting and didn’t want to be disturbed. Sadly, she continued doing so throughout the entire dinner. Try as they might, neither kid could get her to join them in their world—the real world. Both were vying (unsuccessfully) for her attention.

I tried ignoring them, but it was difficult. She was oblivious… unaware that some day she would look up and they’d be gone. I felt compelled to go over and explain to her that whatever it was she was texting about would almost certainly pale in comparison to spending this special time with her two offspring. But I didn’t. “Maybe it takes grown children to be aware of these things,” Anne suggested. She’s probably right.

Even so, this mom seemed blind to the fact that precious moments only appear once—then they’re gone—forever. That’s how moments work. Each one is uniquely special… and then it’s gone. Life happens with or without us. Our kids grow up, our peers and loved ones move on and eventually we all die… that’s reality. Life exists within each moment… and when we aren’t present, we miss it.

We can’t travel back in time and do it again. In life there are no “do-overs”… this is it. The past and future exist only in our minds… the present is our only reality. Whether it’s business, family or a random encounter with a stranger… don’t waste your precious moments not being present. Reality is right now… this moment. For both the giver and receiver, being present is the greatest present of all… a real gift.

Finding Solutions

January 19, 2010

Turning problems into solutions requires that we adjust our perception, suspend our judgments, and remain open-minded to all possibilities. In other words, it means seeing reality for what it “really” is and for what it “really” isn’t.

Since our brain filters through volumes of random data each moment, selecting and rejecting evidence to support our beliefs, we need to consciously define and focus our attention on what it is we are seeking.

Look at the following words and quickly say the actual color aloud (not the word).

If you’re like most people, even this simple challenge requires effort to reprogram your brain. With practice, this task becomes easier once you focus more on the color and less on the actual word.

What we believe and focus on… becomes our reality. If you go out looking for trouble, you’ll find it. If you focus on happiness, it will appear. Once you decide what you’re looking for, your brain will go to work to find it and make it your reality. Whether you’re focused on problems or solutions, it doesn’t matter… your brain will subconsciously gather evidence and make it your reality.

Remember, evidence that could disprove our beliefs is marginalized or blocked by our brain filters, while weaker or even false evidence is distorted or enhanced to support them.

Since labeling something helps make it so, why not start by labeling a “problem” as a “solution”? While this may seem counterintuitive at first, successful people have been seeing problems as solutions since the beginning of time. Read more

Stay Focused on Solutions

October 23, 2009

How many times has a great solution stared you right in the face, yet somehow you missed it? It always seems amazing after the fact, doesn’t it? So how do we start seeing the endless solutions that surround us each and every day? Before answering that question, let’s understand how we miss them in the first place. In part, it’s due to a phenomenon psychologists call “perceptual blindness” or “inattentional blindness.”

Consider the following example: Professor Daniel Simons and his psychology students asked volunteers to watch a short video. In the video, team members (one team dressed in black shirts, the other in white shirts) passed a basketball back and forth. The volunteers were told to count the number of passes made by the team wearing white. At some point, a person in a gorilla suit appears during the video. When the video ended, researchers asked if anybody saw anything unusual. Only half of the volunteers reported seeing the gorilla. The other half reported to have seen nothing unusual.

Here’s a video based on the original study:

gorilla1How could people not notice the gorilla in the room? Mostly because they weren’t looking for it. They were focused on something else. Magicians have known about this phenomenon for years… so have politicians.

Here’s another example called the “Door Study

This helps explain how experts can be more susceptible to perceptual blindness than beginners, and why “outsiders” often find solutions that experienced “insiders” miss. Beginners and outsiders are usually more open to possibilities because they don’t make common assumptions. By extension, they’re often better at finding solutions the experts have stopped seeing.

Perceptual blindness sheds much light on why we miss obvious solutions… especially those we mislabel as problems. By focusing on one thing (a problem), we miss something else (a solution). So why not refocus on solutions? This is one of the topics in my upcoming book: “Pink Bat: Turning Problems Into Solutions.” It should be available for the holiday season… I’ll keep you posted.