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The Key to Einstein’s Genius

The Key to Einstein’s Genius

The key to Einstein’s genius is to learn how to stay with a question longer. Albert Einstein famously remarked,

If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask for once I know the proper question I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.

Einstein also stated,

It’s not that I’m so smart but I stay with the questions much longer.

To stay with our questions longer, DSRP Thinkquiry Questions is a good way.

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What is DSRP Thinkquiry?

DRSP Thinkquiry is developed by Derek and Laura Cabrera – professors at Cornell University. It is a systems thinking approach to structure information and questions in a systematic way.[1] This approach applies simple rules underlying systems thinking. These simple rules are Distinctions – Systems – Relationships – Perspectives (DSRP).

DSRP ThinkQuiry Questions are the building blocks of cognition and are required to deconstruct a problem or issue. You can learn more about this approach and even use it online at www.thinkquiry.us. Furthermore, I encourage you to read more about Derek and Laura Cabrera’s work and two of their outstanding books – Systems Thinking Made Simple and Thinking at Every Desk.

Beyond the Socratic Method

    In Thinking at Every Desk, the Cabrera’s inform us that we should think of DSRP as guiding questions and as a new form of Socratic questioning for the 21st century. They found that the Socratic method of questioning leads students to a black and white view of the world, where DSRP questions lead students to see the infinite shades of gray that actually exist in the world.

    With DSRP Thinkquiry the Cabrera’s sought to provide us with a new way to ask different questions. Here is what they had to say. [2]

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    “We wanted to get people asking different kinds of questions. Questions that lead to new insights and answers but also more questions. Structural questions that can be mixed and matched to form even more complex questions that get at the essence of the wicked problems and complex systems around us.”

    Let’s now dive into DSRP Thinkquiry using a personal example of mine. I write extensively on the foster care system and have published numerous articles and a few books. Books such as Succeeding as a Foster Child a Workbook. I recently published an article on the Different Perspectives of the Foster Care System where I surveyed 243 individuals in order to identify their perspectives of the foster care system using DSRP as a framework and a guide to build better questions for the study.

    Additionally, I used the newest tool created by the Cabrera’s to finish the study – a powerful and free application located at https://kingfisher.link. It is essentially a virtual systems thinking whiteboard.

    Building Better Questions

    Starting with distinctions, let’s see how I was able to ask better questions using the foster care example.

    Distinctions

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      Guiding Questions:

      1. What is Foster Care?
      2. What is-not Foster Care?
      3. How would you distinguish between Foster Care and a similar thing – such as Adoption?
      4. Can you compare and contrast Foster Care and Adoption?

      Systems

        Guiding Questions:

        1. What are the parts of Foster Care?
        2. What is Foster Care a part of?
        3. Can you name some of the parts of the parts of Foster Care?
        4. What are the parts of the relationship between Foster Care and Adoption?
        5. What are the parts of Foster Care when looked at from the viewpoint of a Foster Parent?

        Relationships

          Guiding Questions:

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          1. What ideas are related to Foster Care and what ideas are related by Foster Care?
          2. What idea relates Foster Care and Adoption?
          3. How are the parts of Foster Care related?
          4. How are the parts of Foster Care related to the parts of Adoption?
          5. What are the relationships among Foster Care and Adoption and other things?

          Perspectives

            Here I will use perspectives uncovered during my survey discussed earlier.

            Guiding Questions:

            1. What are the parts of the viewpoint Foster Care when looking at challenges in foster care from multiple perspectives.
            2. How are Foster Care and Adoption related when looking at them from a new perspective – from the perspective of a Foster Child.
            3. Can you think of Foster Care from multiple perspectives?
            4. What are the parts of Foster Care when looked at from multiple viewpoints?

              The Cabrera’s have provided us an improved way to ask better questions. They have provided us, not only a way to stay with a question longer, but also a better way to build questions. I have personally found that by simply using DSRP Thinkquiry Questions, I am able to uncover new ideas that were not previously held in my mind. In fact, I call their systems thinking approach my “aha” or epiphany generator!

              To me, it’s as if the questions are Lego blocks in a random pile. DSRP Thinkquiry Questions are a way to see each block as a different question, where our job is to simply connect them.

              Reference

              More by this author

              Dr. Jamie Schwandt

              Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

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              Last Updated on January 13, 2020

              7 Simple Brain Training Habits to Boost Your Brain Power

              7 Simple Brain Training Habits to Boost Your Brain Power

              Throughout the ages, there have been many beliefs in various tricks to boosting brain power, yet when held up to scientific scrutiny, most of these beliefs don’t add up.

              When I was a child, for example, my mother told me if I ate fish it would make me more intelligent. Of course, there’s no scientific proof this is true.

              Today, there is a myriad of games you can download to your phone that claims to improve your brain’s cognitive skills. While we are still waiting for a conclusive scientific verdict on these, recent studies by neuroscientists at Western University in Ontario[1] and researchers from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia appear to contradict these claims.[2]

              So, how can we really boost our brain power? Well, it turns out there are a number of simple things you can do that will improve the function of your brain. Here are seven to get you started.

              1. Do Your Most Difficult Tasks in the Morning

              Our brains work at their best when they are fresh and energized after a good night’s sleep.

              If you have a task to do that requires a lot of thought and focus, the best time to do that task would be first thing in the morning when your brain is at its freshest.

              This is one of the reasons why checking email first thing the morning is not a good idea. You are wasting your brain’s best hours on a simple task that can be done when your brain is not at its freshest

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              Throughout the day, you will find the amount of time you can focus for will fall. Your decision-making abilities will also begin to weaken as the day progresses. This is called “decision fatigue” and that means the decisions you make later in the day will not be as good as the decisions you make earlier in the day.

              It’s far better to do your most difficult, creative tasks early taking advantage of your brain’s higher energy levels.

              Try to avoid meetings first thing in the morning and schedule work that needs higher creative energy and concentration.

              2. Get Enough Breaks

              Our brains are not very good at maintaining concentration and focus for much more than an hour. Once you go beyond a certain amount of time, doing focused work, you will find yourself making more and more mistakes. This is a sign your brain is tired and needs a break.

              Taking the right kind of break is important. Switching from working on a complex spreadsheet to checking your social media feeds is not going to give your brain the right kind of break. Instead, get up from your desk and head outside. If that is not possible, go to the nearest window and look outside.

              Your brain needs a break from the screen, not just the spreadsheet, so leave your phone behind so you are not tempted to look at it and just savour the view.

              3. Read Books, not Social Media Feeds

              There are no shortcuts to improved knowledge and you are certainly not going to improve your general knowledge about anything useful by reading social media feeds. Instead, make reading books a regular habit.

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              When you read good quality books, you increase your ability to use the knowledge you learn to solve problems as your brain will apply the knowledge you learned to existing situations.

              Learn about economic theory, history and psychology. All these topics have real practical applications for us all today.

              4. Exercise Regularly

              Humans did not evolve to be stationary animals. You need to move.

              Had our ancestors spent their days sat around, they would not have survived very long. To survive and find food, our ancestors had to keep moving. Our brains have evolved to function at their best when we are exercised.

              In his book, Brain Rules, Prof.John Medina explains when we exercise, we increase the amount of oxygen in our brains and this helps to sharpen our brain’s functions.

              In studies, when a previously sedentary group of people began a light exercise programme, their cognitive skills improve as well as reaction times and quantitive skills.

              This is why you are more likely to find the solution to a problem when you are walking somewhere or exercising rather than when you are sat at a desk in front of a screen.

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              5. Get Enough of the Right Food

              You probably have experienced the afternoon slump at some point in your life. This is when you feel tired and fatigued in the mid-afternoon. This is a result of the carbohydrates you ate at lunchtime, stimulating your body to produce insulin which then causes a drop in your blood sugar levels.

              When you go into an afternoon slump, concentrating for long periods become almost impossible and you just want to curl up and go to sleep.

              To prevent the afternoon slump, try to eat a protein-rich lunch such as a tuna or chicken salad without pasta, rice or bread. Keep some healthy snacks such as mixed nuts and dried bananas around your workspace and when you feel a little peckish, eat a few of these.

              Not only will you avoid the afternoon slump, but you will also improve your overall general health and feel a lot more energetic.

              6. Drink Enough Water

              Your brain is made up of about 70% water, so without enough water, your brain will not function at its best.

              When you are not drinking enough water, you will find your ability to concentrate, make decisions and stay alert will reduce. You will feel sleepy and lack energy. Your brain functions at its best when it is properly hydrated.

              The solution is to keep a large bottle of water at your work station and sip regularly from it throughout the day. This will increase the number of trips you need to make to the bathroom which is a good thing. It will keep you moving and taking regular breaks from your screen.

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              7. Don’t Deprive Yourself of Sleep

              You probably don’t need a long scientific study to convince you that if you are not getting enough sleep, you are not going to function at your best.

              You just need to go a couple of days without getting enough sleep and you feel your abilities reduce. Your decision-making skills become erratic, your energy levels drop and your ability to stay focused on your work diminishes.

              If you want to improve your brain’s ability to function, then start with getting enough sleep. The number of hours you need will depend on your own circadian rhythms, so find what works best for you.

              Six to eight hours is usually enough for most people so make sure you are hitting that number of hours per night as a minimum.

              The Bottom Line

              Improving our brain power is not difficult. All we need to do is develop a few simple habits such as exercising regularly, getting enough sleep and eating the right foods.

              These seven tips will go a long way to helping you to become more alert, able to focus longer and make decisions. All simple common sense tricks anyone can use.

              More to Boost Your Brain Power

              Featured photo credit: Nicole Wolf via unsplash.com

              Reference

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