“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.

Beyond Labels

May 21, 2010

An author, enigma, husband, lazy, philosopher, stupid, intelligent, uncle, dreamer, kind, father, sincere, creative genius, son, public speaker, radical, friend, loving, designer, liberal, conservative, insightful, extremist, smart ass, brilliant, idiot, businessman, brother, left-wing, right-wing… these are some of the words and labels people have used to describe me over the past year. Some have been shared directly, others behind my back. While some labels are more objective and useful to communicate, others are subjective and open to interpretation. Notice the contradictions in my labels? That’s because they are projections. Labels reflect as much about the labeler as they do the person being labeled. Since I put little merit in subjective labels, I try not to let them influence my thinking. As people we are more than labels… and reality always trumps words.

While labels simplify the world, provide context and help us organize our thoughts, they don’t define reality. In business, people are given titles to describe a role or position. These labels don’t describe who they are, or what they’re capable of doing. The same holds true with children. Have you ever heard a conversation along these lines?

“My daughter is gifted… she’s in all the advanced classes!”

“That’s wonderful, my son is LD… actually, he’s ADD… and in special classes.

“My oldest son is ADHD and he went on to college. My daughter is average… she’s getting by in regular classes… if she worked harder she could be in AP courses.” Read more

Seeing Beyond Labels

January 18, 2010

Our five senses collect far more input than we can ever process. To prevent sensory overload, our brain filters and edits the outside world. Through this selection process, our perception of reality is established and maintained. In other words, our reality is a filtered version of REALITY itself.

Subconsciously, our brain selects what we believe is possible, plausible and “real,” while ignoring or blocking everything else. Have you ever been in a noisy room with many conversations going on at once when out of nowhere you hear your name mentioned?

That’s your filter at work. Since you consider your name to be important, your brain filters out the less important information and focuses on your name. It’s this selection and rejection process that establishes your sense of reality. It also establishes what you consider a “problem” and what you consider a “solution.”

Modifying our brain filter isn’t easy. It’s even harder when those around us share similar beliefs and expectations. It’s hard to see a new solution when it has been labeled and accepted as a problem… but it is possible. 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.