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Think Laterally

Think Laterally

Lateral thinking is a phrase coined by Edward de Bono as a counterpoint to conventional or vertical thinking. In conventional thinking we go forward in a predictable, direct fashion. Lateral thinking involves coming at the problem from new directions – literally from the side. De Bono defines the four main aspects of lateral thinking as follows:

  1. The recognition of dominant polarizing ideas.
  2. The search for different ways of looking at things.
  3. A relaxation of the rigid control of vertical thinking.
  4. The use of chance.

There are dominant ideas in every walk of life. They are the assumptions, rules and conventions that underpin systems and influence people’s thinking and attitudes. The idea that the Earth was flat or that the Earth was the centre of the Universe are examples of dominant ideas that polarized thought along set lines.

Once the dominant ideas are in place then everything else is viewed in a way that supports them.Someone who is paranoid sees every attempt to help them as malevolent and manipulating.Someone who believes in a conspiracy theory will explain away any inconvenient facts as deliberately constructed by the powers behind the conspiracy.

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Most organisations have dominant ideas that polarise their view of the world. It is easy for us to be critical of the makers of horse-drawn carriages who thought that automobiles were silly contraptions that would never catch on. However we are the captives of established ideas too.

A lateral thinking technique we can use is to write down all the dominant ideas that apply in our situation and then to deliberately challenge them. So for example the major airlines used to work with these beliefs:

  • Customers want high standards of service.
  • We issue tickets for all flights.
  • We allocate seating in advance.
  • We sell through travel agents.
  • We fly to major airports because that is what business travellers want.

Of course the low-cost airlines broke all of these rules and created a huge new market. A good start with lateral thinking is to deliberately turn every assumption and dominant idea on its head and see where that leads.

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Asking ‘What if?’ is a lateral thinking technique that helps us to explore possibilities and challenge assumptions at the same time. We use the ‘What if?’ question to stretch every dimension of the issue. Each ‘What if?’question should be extreme to point of being ridiculous. Say we are running a small charity that cares for homeless dogs. The challenge is, ‘How can we double our fund-raising income?’ The sort of ‘What if?’ questions we could ask might be:

  • What if we had only 1 donor?
  • What if we had 10 million donors?
  • What if we had an unlimited marketing budget?
  • What if we had no marketing budget?
  • What if everyone had to look after a homeless dog for a day?
  • What if dogs slept in beds and people slept in kennels?
  • What if dogs could speak?

The question ‘What if we only had one donor?’ might suggest that we target fabulously wealthy dog lovers in order to raise more funds from fewer donors.We could explore ways of doing this and generate all sorts of ideas. ‘What if dogs could speak?’ might suggest ways of marketing that involved speaking dogs or dog conversations.Each question generates stimulating lines of enquiry by testing the rules and dominant ideas boundaries that are assumed to apply to the problem.

Start with a challenge and, individually or in a group, generate a short list of really provocative ‘what if?’ questions. Take one and see where it leads. Follow the crazy train of thought and see what emerges. You will start with silly ideas but these often lead to radical insights and innovations.

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The role of chance in major inventions and scientific discoveries is well documented.The transmission of radio waves was discovered by Hertz when some of his equipment happened to produce a spark on the other side of the room.Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin when he noticed that one of his old petrie dishes had developed a mould that was resistant to bacteria.X-Rays were discovered accidentally by Roentgen when he was playing with a cathode ray tube. Christopher Columbus discovered America when he was looking for a route to India.

The common theme is that someone with a curious mind sets out to investigate things.When something unusual happens they study it and see how it can be put to use.The same methods can work for us.When we are looking for new ideas and fresh ways to do things then a random input can help us.

A highly effective brainstorming technique is to take a noun at random from the dictionary.Write down some associations or attributes of the word and then force fit connections between the word or its associations and the brainstorming challenge.People do not believe that it works until they try it.Some words produce nothing worthwhile but every so often you will get really radical ideas using this method.

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The same approach works using a random object, picture, song and so on. This is why a walk around a museum or art gallery can be so useful when we are working on a knotty problem. The brain can make all sorts of lateral connections between the variety of stimuli that you encounter and the problem.

A great deal of humour is based on lateral thinking. The comedian ridicules existing beliefs; he comes at an issue from unusual directions; he makes unexpected connections to give the surprise that makes us laugh. The two best reasons to use lateral thinking in our everyday lives are because we will generate many fresh, better ideas and because it is great fun.

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Paul Sloane

Professional Keynote Speaker, Author, Innovation Expert

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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

How to Quit Your Job That You Hate and Start Doing What You Love

How to Quit Your Job That You Hate and Start Doing What You Love

Everyone of us has a plan in our head that was taken over by family responsibilities, social pressure or sheep mentality. This made us a slave to instant gratification and started killing our plan and dreams.

There is a way to revive your plans and dreams and live a happier life. No amount of salary can exceed your desire to do something that you are really passionate about.

If you hate your job and have thought about leaving your job, here’s how to quit your job and start doing what you love:

1. Identify if you really want to quit to follow your passion

There could be many possible reasons to figure out why you are discouraged to go to work and start thinking about how to quitting your job. Figure out the reasons or signs that make you feel that you should really quit your job.

If these reasons are not related to your office environment or your ultimate goal is to pay your bills from your job, you should consider getting a new job in the same field. It’s better to be an experienced receptionist than to live a dream that is not yours.

2. Start with the side hustle and keep it going

Work after you get back home and build up your product or service enough to gain confidence to quit your job.

Build the website, write down the business plan, design your product, make marketing collaterals or do whatever it takes for you to start working full time on your new venture before quitting your current job.

You could also consider part-time working opportunities if your current job sucks a lot of your energy. This way you could save your energy and dedicate more time to your side hustle.

Ensure that you don’t quit until your new venture really demands your full time dedication. You might lose interest in your new venture if you fall short of survival money.

3. Save enough to pay your bills

If you need to pursue your passion, you need your monthly bills to be taken care of, without any worries. You must cut down on unnecessary expenses and squeeze in those extra bucks on your savings while you are at your current job. You should forget those weekend parties and social outings unless they’re meant for networking.

It makes no sense to quit your job without having any savings. Your new venture will not start paying you immediately. Starting a recurring deposit account is a good idea to start off with. Put aside a considerable amount every month as soon as you get your paycheque and forget about that money until you quit your job.

4. Write down your goals

It is important to have visual proof and a daily reminder of why you quit your job and started a new hustle.

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Write down your goals and read them at least once a week. If you are a forgetful person, create cell phone or desktop wallpapers of your goals and set them until you achieve them. Visual proof keeps you on track.

These goals are the bigger picture of what you wish to achieve in your pursuit to doing what you love.

For example, if you are wish to design the best dresses in the whole state, write it down. If you wish to fly to Mars, write it down. If you really wish to give up your career for something, it better be worth remembering everyday. Show it to yourself daily.

5. Make a plan

Write down a plan of action for the next 12 months. It’s like writing down an elaborate execution plan in your calendar. This could be a daily, weekly or monthly to-do list of your tasks to achieve your goals.

Learn how to make a plan if that’s not your area of expertise. Ensure that you know what you’re going to do next and not run like a headless chicken after two months of working for yourself.

Review the plan time and again to track your progress. This will give you a clear picture of your performance and your shortcomings.

Also, have a backup plan. Even great planners and strategists fail before achieving success. Ensure that you have a second plan if your first one does not work out as you predicted.

6. Get professional advice

Talk to experienced people in the field you want to venture out. Go to networking events and connect with people in your industry. Most people will help you out with good advice and good contacts.

Get professional courses in part time colleges. It could be great to network and the teachers can be of great help to understand more about the industry. They will help you analyse your plan and connect you to influential people.

7. Prepare yourself to put a resignation

Prepare yourself mentally to quit your job after you’ve realized the potential and prepared yourself to take a deep dive into your new profession.

Leave on a friendly note. Don’t make enemies with your bosses. These connections could help you further in your profession.

Don’t burn the bridges. It’s better to have a face-to-face conversation with your boss or reporting manager than sending a surprise mail.

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Tell them sincerely about your new venture and why it is important for you. Serve the notice period completely and work till the last day. Complete all your tasks as you would on a regular day. This will maintain your respect and keep your relationships intact.

8. Be prepared to get your hands dirty

As an entrepreneur, you have to do everything that’s needed to keep your work going.

You have to perform all the tasks needed to keep your new venture going. You have to be a janitor, an administrator, an accountant, a designer or a salesperson all at once.

There would be a point of time where you will have to perform tasks that aren’t your favourite. Be ready to perform such tasks without cringing.

9. Have no baggage

Don’t have a debt! Clear all your loans, debts and pending commitments before starting off. You want to fully concentrate on your new activity and not be bent down by loading your shoulders with any burden.

You would want to enjoy your freedom to work incessantly. No distractions whatsoever are allowed to come close to you when you are fully involved in the rhythm of development. Shun away materialism!

10. Don’t be in two minds

It’s good to analyze the best and the worst possibilities in your head, but it’s not at all good to doubt yourself.

Move ahead with confidence. It’s your life, your plan and your rules. Nothing and nobody can stop you from doing what you wish to do.

The more you start getting noticed, the more people will point fingers at you. Don’t let them affect you and create doubts in your head. As William Shakespeare said,

“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”

11. Learn to handle failure

You are going to be a loser and it’s a good thing! If you fail and lose, you will learn to not repeat your mistakes and make yourself stronger with every punch you throw out.

It takes time till you start losing. The key is to not be demotivated by failure. The more the failure, the more closer you are to success.

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12. Try your hands at investing in stock market or cryptocurrency

It’s a good way to keep your side income rolling in. While you are busy building your dream project, you could invest your money in the stock market or cryptocurrency and let it grow while you sleep.

As Warren Buffet famously quoted,

“If you don’t find a way to make money while you sleep, you will work until you die.”

Find a good stock broker who has enough experience to not lose your money. Stop immediately if you are losing a lot of money. Don’t burn away your money.

13. Keep a healthy routine

It’s easy to forget about your health when you are working on something that you’re really passionate about. Set reminders about your health routine.

Exercise! Most successful people start their day early and take time out to exercise at least thrice a week. It helps you give more energy and time to your work.

Always remember that you started your new venture to be happier. Bad health will not let you enjoy your success.

Join yoga classes or learn meditation from youtube. Avoid sitting too long at one place for more than 15 minutes at a stretch, take breaks. take a walk, especially up-down the staircase as much as you can to skip age related joint pains and muscle atrophies.[1]

14. Enjoy your days off

Taking a break helps your creativity and clears your mind from clutter. You need your days off to come back afresh and take on your tasks. You can’t be working 24/7.

Remember that being able to take your days off is one of the beneficial quirks of an entrepreneurial journey. You can have a routine designed by yourself, for yourself.

Take your days off when you are too stressed and can’t think straight. Self-discipline might sound simple but practice takes ages. Schedule down time for yourself.

15. Take these steps to quit your job without burning bridges

Resume.io has this infographic about the steps you should take after you’ve decided to quit your job:[2]

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    16. Remember why you quit your job

    Lastly, remember why you quit your job and started doing what you love. There would be bad days that will make you regret your decision, but don’t let them dominate the reason why you took the plunge.

    Your soul wasn’t happy with what you were doing. Your new venture is what you always wanted to do.

    Never forget that.

    If nothing works out, you could still go back to any job you want, but at least, you’d be spared from regrets and constantly arriving “What if?” question in your head.

    So, start now and live without any regrets.

    Execution matters more than thought. Turn your dream into a reality starting today. Start small and grow big.

    Besides, it’s never too late to do what you want to do. Here’s the proof:

    How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

    Reference

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