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Unleash your Inner Genius

Unleash your Inner Genius
Your Inner Genius

    Let’s say you are wrestling with a tough issue – maybe at work, at home, with your children or in your social life. You have been stuck for a while and you can’t seem to make a breakthrough. You want to come up with some really creative ideas. What can you do? Here are ten great practical ways to boost your inventiveness and to crack the problem:

    1. Ask why, why? Ask, ‘why has this issue arisen?’ Come up with six different reasons and for each of them ask, ‘why did this happen?’ Keep asking why for each cause. This helps you to better understand the different reasons why this is a problem and so in turn you will see different possible solutions.

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    2. Sleep on it. Ponder the issue and all its aspects for some time and then put it out of your mind. Get a good night’s sleep. The subconscious mind goes to work and often you come up with great ideas the next day.

    3. Talk it over with someone who has nothing to do with the situation. They will often ask basic questions or make seemingly silly suggestions that prompt good ideas. Two heads are better than one but people who are too close to the issue will often come up with the same ideas as you, so try an outsider.

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    4. Ask how some celebrity would tackle the issue – what would Steve Jobs do? Or Bob Geldof , or Richard Branson, or Salvador Dali or Margaret Thatcher or Madonna or Sherlock Holmes? Take each individual’s approach to its extremes and it will likely give you some radical solutions.

    5. Pick up any object at random and say to yourself, ‘this item contains the key to solving the problem.’ Then force some ideas. Try this with several different objects and you will have a selection of radical and inventive ideas.

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    6. Use similes. Try to think of a different problem in another walk of life that is like your problem. Say you want your staff at work to try new ways of working. You might imagine that this is like getting your children to eat vegetables. List various methods you might use with your children to encourage or persuade them to try vegetables. Then go through the list and then see if any of the ideas can be converted into things you can try at work.

    7. Imagine an ideal solution in a world where there are no constraints -e.g. you can use any resource you want. Now work back from that ideal and challenge each of the constraints that is holding you back from achieving it. Many of the obstacles can be overcome when you take this approach.

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    8. Open a dictionary and take any noun at random. Write down six attributes of that noun – so for tree you might write – root, branch, family, apple, trunk and tall. Then force some links between the word or its attributes and the problem in order to come up with fresh ideas. You will be surprised at how well this works – for individuals or in a group.

    9. Ponder the issue and then go for a walk around an art gallery or museum. The range of external stimuli will help you conceive plenty of new ideas.

    10. Draw a picture of the situation showing the people and the issues in simple cartoon style. Put it up on the wall and then imagine how the story could develop. Think of it as a cartoon strip. Many people’s brains work better in images than in words or numbers so this can lead to fantastic ideas.

    These methods work for individuals and for groups. Try them and see what suits you best. Above all keep reminding yourself – there are some great solutions for my problem – I haven’t found the right one yet but I will!

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    Paul Sloane

    Professional Keynote Speaker, Author, Innovation Expert

    How to Win an Argument – Dos, Don’ts and Sneaky Tactics How to Get Rich: 11 Bold Moves That Guarantee Wealth How to be a Brilliant Conversationalist Think Laterally Write A Killer Resume In Seven Easy Steps

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    Last Updated on July 16, 2019

    6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

    6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

    Have you ever thought of yourself as a problem solver? I’m guessing not. But in reality, we are constantly solving problems. And the better our problem solving skills are, the easier our lives are.

    Problems arise in many shapes and forms. They can be mundane, everyday problems, or larger more complex problems:

    What to have for dinner tonight?

    Which route to take to work?

    How to fix a project that’s running behind schedule?

    How to change from an uninspiring job to a career you’re really passionate about?

    Every day, you’ll be faced with at least one problem to solve. But it gets easier when you realize that problems are simply choices. There’s nothing ‘scary’ about them other than having to make a decision.

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    No matter what job you’re in, where you live, who your partner is, how many friends you have, you will be judged on your ability to solve problems. Because problems equal hassles for everyone concerned. And people don’t like hassle. So the more problems you can solve, the less hassle all-round, the happier people are with you. Everyone wins.

    Why Are Problem Solving Skills Important?

    Problem is something hard to understand or accomplish or deal with. It can be a task, a situation, or even a person. Problem solving involves methods and skills to find the best solutions to problems.

    Problem solving is important because we all have decisions to make, and questions to answer in our lives. Amazing people like Eleanor Roosevelt, Steve Jobs, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., are all great problems solvers. Good parents, teachers, doctors and waiters all have to be good at solving different sort of problems as well.

    Problem solving skills are for our everyday lives.

    How to Enhance Problem Solving Skills

    Most people believe that you have to be very intelligent in order to be a good problem solver, but that’s not true.

    You don’t have to be super smart to be a problem solver, you just need practice.

    When you understand the different steps to solve a problem, you’ll be able to come up with great solutions.

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    1. Focus on the Solution, Not the Problem

    Neuroscientists have proven that your brain cannot find solutions if you focus on the problem.[1] This is because when you focus on the problem, you’re effectively feeding ‘negativity,’ which in turn activates negative emotions in the brain. These emotions block potential solutions.

    I’m not saying you should ‘ignore the problem,’ instead, try to remain calm. It helps to first, acknowledge the problem; and then, move your focus to a solution-oriented mindset where you keep fixed on what the ‘answer’ could be, rather than lingering on ‘what went wrong’ and ‘who’s fault it is’.

    2. Adapt 5 Whys to Clearly Define the Problem

    5 Whys is a problem solving framework to help you get to the root of a problem.

    By repeatedly asking the question “why” on a problem, you can dig into the root cause of a problem, and that’s how you can find the best solution to tackle the root problem once and for all. And it can go deeper than just asking why for five times.

    For example:

    If the problem is “always late to work”…

    • Why am I late to work?
      I always click the snooze button and just want to go on sleeping.
    • Why do I want to go on sleeping?
      I feel so tired in the morning.
    • Why do I feel tired in the morning?
      I slept late the night before, that’s why.
    • Why did I sleep late?
      I wasn’t sleepy after drinking coffee, and I just kept scrolling my Facebook feed and somehow I couldn’t stop.
    • Why did I drink coffee?
      Because I was too sleepy at work in the afternoon, not having enough sleep the night before.

    So there you see, if you didn’t try to dig out the root of the problem, you may just set a few more alarms and have it beep every five minutes in the morning. But in fact, the problem you need to solve is to quit Facebook surfing endlessly at night so you’ll feel more energetic in the day time, and you won’t even need coffee.

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    3. Simplify Things

    As human beings, we have a tendency to make things more complicated than they need to be! Try simplifying your problem by generalizing it.

    Remove all the details and go back to the basics. Try looking for a really easy, obvious solution – you might be surprised at the results! And we all know that it’s often the simple things that are the most productive.

    4. List out as Many Solutions as Possible

    Try to come up with ‘ALL POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS’ – even if they seem ridiculous at first. It’s important you keep an open mind to boost creative thinking, which can trigger potential solutions.

    Coming from 10 years in the corporate advertising industry, it is drummed into you that ‘No idea is a bad idea’ and this aids creative thinking in brainstorms and other problem-solving techniques.

    Whatever you do, do not ridicule yourself for coming up with ‘stupid solutions’ as it’s often the crazy ideas that trigger other more viable solutions.

    5. Think Laterally

    Change the ‘direction’ of your thoughts by thinking laterally. Pay attention to the saying,

    ‘You cannot dig a hole in a different place by digging it deeper.”

    Try to change your approach and look at things in a new way. You can try flipping your objective around and looking for a solution that is the polar opposite!

    Even if it feels silly, a fresh and unique approach usually stimulates a fresh solution.

    6. Use Language That Creates Possibility

    Lead your thinking with phrases like ‘what if…’ and ‘imagine if…’ These terms open up our brains to think creatively and encourage solutions.

    Avoid closed, negative language such as ‘I don’t think…’ or ‘But this is not right…’.

    The Bottom Line

    There’s nothing scary about a problem when you start to adapt my advice.

    Try not to view problems as ‘scary’ things! If you think about what a problem really is, it’s really just feedback on your current situation.

    Every problem is telling you that something is not currently working and that you need to find a new way around it.

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    So try to approach problems neutrally – without any judgment. Practice focusing on defining a problem, keep calm and not to make things too complicated.

    More About Problem Solving

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Planet of Success: Problem vs Solution Focused Thinking

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