Life is problems. Challenges to overcome. Opportunities to grab hold of. Businesses to build. Relationships to make work. Communities to help. Children to raise.
What makes us human is our ability to think creatively and solve problems. We ARE problem solvers. We create.
But some of us are better at it than others.
And all of us can improve… if we choose to.
The Ethical Creator
The ultimate problem, the one most important to work on, is how might we become better problem solvers? Or even mature enough to foresee and prevent problems! How might we manifest our most ethically creative nature? How might we set a good example for those who watch us? How might we become wise?
The Expedition of a Lifetime
The data about how to become a more ethically creative problem solver is clear, and the path forward on this ultimate expedition – skilled problem prevention and solution finding – has already been blazed through the tangled jungle of confusion that is our understanding of self.
Fortunately, there are skilled, professional guides. And more and more people are choosing to learn the way.
At the end of the path – at the place it opens up to a beautiful vista we hope to see – we arrive at the connected innovation we seek: some newness, bringing better value to the world than what has been before.
“All paths are the same – they lead nowhere. The only judge of a path is – does it have heart?” Don Juan, Yaqui Shaman
4 Keys to Mastering Problem Solving
Each of us is already equipped to travel this path well, but there is a packing list of four “simple” things we must bring.
1. Desire for connection
If you are reading this, you likely already believe that this kind of personal improvement is attainable. You likely already understand that our creative thinking – our ability to connect previously unconnected thoughts – requires a conscious choice of will. And, you’re aware that neurologically, our brains sort and organize – they make connections.
Of course, a brain can only connect what it has to what is fed into it. That which its owner chooses to be open to seeing. The size of the opening can be constricted or enlarged – by choice. Enlarged by connection, restricted by disconnection. Constricted by prejudice, arrogance, narrow-mindedness, lack of continuous learning and confirmation bias. You can choose to feed your mind with new ideas.
2. Feed Your Mind
Our packing list must include a wide diversity of high quality brain feed. Diverse information, broad ongoing education, differing viewpoints and provable truths, instead of regurgitated opinion. Nutritious open-mindedness that allows newness to seep into our cortex and make beautiful connections with what is already there. Skilled listening. Generalized curiosity. The most inventive scientists are those who read OUTSIDE of their field.
Those who feed their minds well become the route-finders and trailblazers of life’s journey. They become the wise elders who make it possible for the next generations to achieve even greater things.
3. Connect Previously Unconnected Thoughts
Creative thinking is the connection of previously unconnected thoughts.
These connections happen all of the time – when we’re waking up and falling asleep, when we’re bathing or driving our cars. Almost as if by magic – ideas to solve the problems we care about are created by our minds in the background of our busyness. But it is not magic. It is the natural order of creativity to appear when things connect in new and different ways.
We call it creativity when we bring those new connections out into the world in an observable way. When we tell someone, or write it down. When we draw a picture, make something, build a prototype or take action or explain something in a way that is different than we have before.
4. Suspend Your Current Viewpoint (Sharing With & Learning From Others)
Our professional trail guides – the wise elders who have come before – are clear here too. Our packing list must include the skills, attitudes and behaviors that make it easier for us all to share our creative thinking with each other – including deferred-judgment listening, humility, open mindedness, courage, and tenacity. A willingness to suspend our current viewpoint and imagine the viewpoint of another as if it were our own.
A Beautiful View to Behold
Then! Oh Then! We see ethical creativity. We see wise innovation.
We create valuable, positive newness. We overcome challenges. We see and grab hold of opportunities. We build successful businesses. We energize effective social policy. We improve relationships.
Our Lives then Become Creation
We move from complaining about problems to being all we can be. And that is what we experience as divine fun! We become creators, having a productive stroll through our section of the universe.
Let’s help each other do that. The other guides that I work with and I will be glad to break trail if you don’t know the best route. But we’ll likely need your support from time to time as we come to our own difficult stretches. Let’s share the load.
We’ll leave you to ponder joining this expedition with this inspiration from René Daumal:
You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again.
So why bother in the first place?
Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above.
One climbs, one sees.
One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen.
There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up.
When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.”