The mind is a self-maximising system that strives to do the best it can with what it is fed. Unfortunately, that is no guarantee that it will find the optimal solution. The degree of success achieved depends on many factors, including the sequence that thoughts or ideas are presented to the mind, as well as the thinking strategies that are employed to filter, process and structure the raw input.
With vertical thinking strategies, we can ‘code’ sequences of thoughts to make it easier to access suitable precoded patterns in the future to activate fairly predictable patterns of behaviors, in an attempt to save time and energy when we need to solve new, but similar problems. However, these preset code structures or patterns can only take us so far before we can’t progress any further beyond a certain point. The result of ‘hitting the ceiling’ can be feelings of profound frustration, helplessness and even anger, none of which are supportive of optimally effective thought processes and subsequent behaviour. Essentially, this approach to problem solving is, on its own, analogous to trying to get out of a trench by digging deeper into that same trench. It simply doesn’t work and we actually end up with even less options, along with a very non-productive or non-creative mindset.
What is required to ‘escape’ from such well-worn and restrictive precoded thought pattern trenches, which have outlived their usefulness, and to seek out better and more effective solutions and behaviours, is to engage in the practice of ‘insight restructuring.’ The practice involves either the restructuring or recoding of old ingrained patterns, as well as the creation of totally new ones. To achieve this, one needs to enter the realm of lateral thinking, which some people call inspiration, or even ‘creative magic.’ Certainly, some people seem to naturally possess more inspiration or creative abilities than others, but often even they don’t know how they come up with the amazing ideas they do. So, while that’s all really nice and convenient if you have the luxury of lots of time on your hands, it’s unfortunately not much use when you have to come up with ideas to a deadline, which is probably more the reality in today’s business world where we need to deliver on time.
In any case, the truth is that lateral thinking is a process that can, in fact, be trained. Essentially, this means means that virtually anyone can improve their skills in bringing about positive change in their lives, often in very unexpected ways, by learning, practising and then employing skills in lateral thinking. So, what are some simple exercises or things that can be done to develop your lateral or creative thinking skills? Well, yeh, that’s certainly the right question at this point and no doubt I’ll get to that in my next blog article. Until then, consider a problem or issue that you have struggled with; one that you feel you’ve tried everything to resolve, but you just haven’t be able to move forward with. Then try and think of how maybe Winston Churchill, or say Robbin Williams, or even just a person who inspires you, might have tackled the issue.