Problem Solving with a Kaleidoscope
Like most children, I was fascinated when I had my first encounter with a Kaleidoscope. I can remember being mesmerised by the changing patterns and colours as I gently turned the wheel. I couldn't comprehend how a subtle shift could dramatically change the image before me, that's what made it appear like 'magic' to me. Fast forward to the present day and I am reminded of my friend when I encounter a problem that needs solving. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, we cannot solve a problem with the same thinking that created the problem to begin with. This doesn't mean we need other people to fight our battles and innovate for us. It just means that we need to become that little bit more resourceful. We don't need to hire the handyman down the road to fix all our problems, sometimes we can go to the hardware store and purchase a screwdriver.
When all you have is a hammer then every problem appears to be a nail
I have read and heard a lot around mental models of the world. Different terminology is used but it all boils down to how we individually conceptualise the world around us. How two people can witness the same event and come away with completely opposing descriptions. I was listening to a podcast recently on the Art of Charm and I thought that James Clear provided a very accessible, practical description of how the ultra successful use mental models to navigate the modern world.
Here is a quote from Charlie Monger, right hand man to Warren Buffet, that demonstrates how he uses mental models to reframe problems:
“We all are learning, modifying, or destroying ideas all the time. Rapid destruction of your ideas when the time is right is one of the most valuable qualities you can acquire. You must force yourself to consider arguments on the other side.”
The good news is that, like a Kaleidoscope, it doesn't take exceptional skill, talent, or dedication to start viewing the same thing through a different lens. The only shift that we need to make for today, is to change our default reaction when we hear a new idea. Instead of holding the attitude of 'prove me wrong', we can instead choose the attitude of 'hmm I didn't see things that way before, tell me more'.
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