Looking Back To Move Forward
Another year is over. Take a moment to reflect on the past years.Start with an honest evaluation of your accomplishments, successes and failures.
Welcome the new year with a celebration of the past. Whatever challenges you faced last year, you are here to face another year. You are inspired and ready to tackle new endeavours, explore new horizons and reach for the stars.
Looking back helps to evaluate what worked and what didn't. Some issues seem to be replayed over and over. How many years has it been that you've promised to be more vigilant about your diet and exercise? What about the overuse of your credit card? How do you manage your time? What is it going to be this year? What are your priorities?
It's all a matter of perspective. Somewhere in the past, you stumbled and for a while, you were spinning your wheels. Take heart, that is past. There is a deep
well of strength and courage within you. And you moved on.
No one passes through this life without knowing pain and heartache. Add to this regret over lost opportunities, wrong choices and wrong decisions. These do not define your life. It is the lessons learned from these , and the determination to do better. Reap the nuggets of precious insights from the muddle and move on.
How well do you take care of your mental, physical and spiritual self? If you believe in taking care of your mental and spiritual well-being, your physical
health will definitely reap the benefits. Do you allow yourself time alone to enjoy peace and quiet? Have you learned to say NO. Do you take time to appreciate the beauty , the bounty and the blessings of the universe?
Stress is the scourge of living in the fast lane and getting caught up in the pursuit of material success. Consider seriously the level of your stress over the past years and how it affects your health. Think about this- your stress level impacts on your relationships, your career, your family and your whole life.
Some pursue elusive dreams. How long has it been? Ask yourself. Perhaps it's time to re-assess that dream. Times change. There are other avenues to pursue. Don't get stuck chasing after something that loses its value, its luster as time moves on. Don't let life pass you by.
Look back honestly, but kindly. And move on.
Anchoring With Nlp
There was some sunshine this weekend while I was writing this! At least here on the sunny south coast of England there was. I went out walking along the sea front with my partner Sara on Saturday morning and it was wonderful; the feeling of sunshine on my face, the smell of the air, the sites of other people out and about and happy, the local land train was shuttling people and their excited children back and forth from Bournemouth pier to Boscombe Pier and my senses were filled - a major event for human neurophysiology (mine anyway!)
The funny thing is, later on that evening when my friends were joking about my pink coloured forehead, I told them that I was really looking forward to summer and as I spoke, I felt the sun on me, imagined the fun I was going to have on the beach, remembered the smell, the amazing feeling of joy that I get from being there, just by anticipating it all.
A natural phenomenon we can replicate with NLP techniques. NLP stands for neuro-linguistic programming, which is just a methodology for helping make changes. We shorten it to NLP for easy understanding.
Without realising it, the time I had spent on the sea front earlier that day had acted as an anchor for the wonderful experience which immediately followed it. The next time I saw & heard the experience, albeit in my mind, my neurology went "I know what happens now" and started to produce the intense physical responses that it 'knew' were coming next.
In the field of NLP, an anchor is any representation in the human nervous system that triggers any other representation. For instance, the word 'sex' will immediately trigger images, sounds etc associated with that word. The word 'chocolate' will trigger different associations. I am not too sure which of those will create the most intense feelings though! These words are anchors. Anchors do not have to be words, they can be a wide range of things.
With NLP, we identify that anchors can operate in any representational system (ie. sight, sound, feeling, smell, taste.) Let me give you some examples;
Tonal: By that, I mean for example, the special way a certain person has of saying your name, like when a friend or family member says it. My mother shouting my name from the depths of my home when I was a child often signalled the fact that she had discovered something that I had done that meant trouble for me! "Adam!" often made me feel what I was in store for.
Tactile: The effect of a certain type of handshake for example, or the sensation of a reassuring hug compared to a loving cuddle. Rekindles all kinds of wonderful feelings.
Visual: The way people respond to certain items of clothing. I recently had lunch with a group of my friends from the town where I grew up and several of them commented on the jacket I was wearing. Now, whenever they see it, it reminds them of those comments and makes them smile.
Olfactory: Like when you smell a certain kind of food being cooked can suddenly have you remembering a time when you were in the school cafeteria.
Gustatory: The taste of your favourite food or the way certain foods can make you remember how you felt when you had it before. Maybe like when you were given soup and a big helping of love and sympathy when you were young and off school because you were poorly. I know every time I eat Heinz Tomato soup it reminds me of just that.
Once again, in the field of NLP, an anchor is any representation in the human nervous system that triggers any other representation. It is conceptually similar to Pavlovian conditioning (ie. bells and salivating dogs; some of Pavlovs findings feature in the field of NLP.
While the anchor I created for the sea front was unintentional, it is possible for you to use this NLP tecnique to anchor yourself intentionally. Have a go at this and learn this NLP technique for yourself......
Fistly, think of an occasion when you had a highly pleasurable, positive or enjoyable experience. See what you saw then (looking out through your own eyes), hear what you heard and feel what you felt. As you feel the sensations increase in intensity, squeeze the thumb & forefinger of your left hand gently together for a few moments, then release them. Now 'break your state' (Eg. by remembering what you had for lunch yesterday.) Squeeze your thumb & forefinger together again, gently pulsing them. The state will return.
To make the most of anchoring with NLP, it is important to really engage in the experience and make it wonderfully vivid in your mind and to then also put effort into recalling it when you first activate your NLP anchor for a few times. Imagine how powerful this can be when you want to feel wonderful if you are home, feeling gloomy. Instead of reaching for the chocolate, you can start to activate your "feel good" anchor.
Every time you want to get motivated to exercise, just activate your enthusiasm anchor. It is a really simple technique of NLP.
This is a simple but powerful NLP technique that can enable you to have access to the states and resources you want, when you want them. The use of thumb & forefinger is an example of a tactile anchor, but you can use any representation to anchor something for yourself or someone else.
Guidelines for setting anchors with NLP;
In order to get a 'strong' anchor for an experience, it is important to
a) Ensure that you have a powerful example of the experience to work with.
b) Anchor in as many representational systems as possible (visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, etc).
c) Set the anchor just before the experience peaks.
d) When you activate the anchor, do it accurately. Be precise!
e) With tactile (kinaesthetic) anchors, pulsing the anchor can help to maintain the experience
One of the people who came on one of my NLP training courses was particularly taken with the idea of anchoring. Shortly after the NLP training, one morning his wife offered to make him a cup of tea, and as she did so, he gently tapped the side of his cup with his ring. He repeated this the next few times she made him a cup of tea. After a while, all he had to do was tap the side of his cup subtly with his ring & she would spontaneously offer to get him a cup of tea!! Very Naughty use of NLP, Eh?! Just by creating a sensory representation (tapping the cup) that coincided with her making tea, he was soon able to use that representation as a trigger for what he wanted. He did eventually share his NLP anchoring experience with his wife and you can be sure he makes a lot more tea than she does now!
Now I know that by now some of you may be thinking "But isn't that manipulative?!?" One answer is "Yes, so use it for doing good stuff!"
Another answer is "no." It is no more manipulative than making yourself look good and smell nice when you go out. In those situations you are trying to get people to think the best of you and have a good response to you, a response that you are attempting to anchor through your choice of clothing, grooming and smelly perfume.
Here are some of the sorts of things that I go out of my way to use NLP to anchor whenever I see them or experience them:
- Good feelings
- Good performance (especially by waiters & waitresses!)
- Anything that looks good, useful or fun; Achievement and success are especially useful for stopping smoking, reducing weight or growing in confidence.
It's happening all the time anyway:
As I said at the beginning, anchoring with NLP is a naturally occurring phenomenon anyway. You are exposed to it all the time in everything you do. Everyone is doing this stuff all the time, often without really knowing it. All I am inviting you to do is to become conscious of the anchors that you and others are setting (maybe using NLP), and to start using them purposefully to get good results, rather than randomly to get whatever you get. Use NLP with mindfulness.
Taking this a step further;
Recently, I was working with a team of related staff members with regards to doing some NLP consulting with them. I asked them how they would know that the two days had been a great success. One of them said it would have a 'feel good factor' and simultaneously made a gesture with both hands towards his tummy. When I repeated the words 'feel good factor' to him, he nodded in confirmation. Later on, I referred to the feel good factor, and simultaneously used his gesture. Instead of a nod of confirmation, I got a full physiological response, including skin colour changes, posture and energy changes...the full works. His words had been a good anchor, but the words plus the gesture were far more complete. When I used both, I got a full response. I continued to use the anchor throughout the consultation. At no time was he aware that I was using NLP & his anchors - he just had the experience of being really well understood.
You can use NLP anchors to capture and re-use positive experiences for yourself & others. Now have a go at doing this NLP exercise too...
1) Think of an occasion when you had a highly pleasurable, positive or enjoyable experience. See what you saw then (looking out through your own eyes), hear what you heard and feel what you felt. As you feel the sensations increase in intensity, squeeze the thumb & forefinger of your left hand gently together for a few moments, then release them. Now 'break your state' (Eg. by remembering what shoe you put on first today.) Squeeze your thumb & forefinger together again, gently pulsing them. The state will return.
2) Identify something that someone you know already does, and create a subtle anchor. Set the anchor while they are doing the activity. Later, fire your NLP anchor and see what happens. If they do the thing you anchored, then it worked!
3) When you (or someone you are with) are experiencing something you want to have more of, anchor it.
As usual, remember that this stuff is powerful so use your NLP skills wisely. As well, allow yourself to start becoming aware of when it is being used on you. Advertisers, politicians and stand-up comedians all know the power of NLP anchors and use them with great cunning (and to great effect.) Awareness with NLP is the key - have fun.
Inventions Innovation And Creativity
Creativity is what sets you apart from your competitors. Competition may kill your business, but if you are creative enough you won't ever have to fear competition. Fortunes are often born in creative minds. A simple idea can turn into a never ending stream of cash. If you innovate, there are no limits or boundaries for you. The sky is the limit.
So, it can be said that one of the most important factors a company may have is the ability to come up with fresh ideas, new concepts, sophisticated marketing techniques. People like new things. Everyone wants to create something new. People struggle to be different in today's marketplace.
If you do a simple research you will find out that creativity is one of the things that make people become rich. Often, the more you create the more money you make. This requires effort and dedication. To see the opportunity where no one else see it.
I firmly believe that fortunes can be made. You simply have to define a problem and find a solution. Then capitalize on that solution. Problems are everywhere and the bigger the problem that you find the solution to, the bigger the chance you will make a lot of money from your idea.
You can create anything. It can be an invention, an e-book with information, art, a scientific breakthrough, etc. Just find a need and try to fill it. I guess you have heard that many times already, but it is true. The easiest way to make money is to help other people make money or help them solve their problems and receive some compensation from your efforts.
Isn't that what capitalism is all about? To allow people to become rich by enriching other people's lives? You don't need to chase money nor go after wealth. When you add value to the life of others you usually receive compensation for it. The best way to add value is to come up with a creative solution that no one thought about before.
This is not always easy. Sometimes the ideas will come fast and smoothly. Other times you will have to think hard about the solution. Keep in mind that the harder the problem and the better the solution, the more money you can make from it.
At the end making money may not be that hard for you. Once you get used to it you can do it often. The business of innovation has always being one of the most profitable businesses you can participate on. Creativity is something that come from the inside. It originates within your mind.
This is certainly one of the most important factors that an entrepreneur should take into consideration. It can make a huge difference in your businesses. Remember that there is no limit to what you can create. So, you can make a lot of money by just adding value to the life of others and finding solutions to complex problems that you can find everywhere.
The decision is yours. Most people work hard all their lives because they try to imitate what others do all the time. Work on those creative skills and improve them. You will be glad you did.
It doesn't take a genius to create something new. You don't have to be too smart. Sometimes the ideas originate from your intentions or they just come to you. Probably you already have thoughts about how to improve something or create something new that does not exist yet. You just have to polish that idea and give it a try. You may be amazed at the results.
What Innovation Can Do To Your Life
It's a talent that everyone has, yet they think they don't. The power of innovation. If you've ever marvelled at somebody's creative prowess, guess what, you can create and innovate too. It just takes time. Everyone is born creative. The box of crayons in kindergarten were not limited to those who possessed potential; because the truth is, everybody has potential.
You know how long it took to learn to ride a bike or drive or to never commit the same mistake again? It's the same with innovation. It takes a bit of practice and a lot of time before this mind function comes easily when called. This article will teach you a few tips on how to bring innovation into your life.
Don't listen to what other people say. Follow the beat of your own drum. Allowing for the input of other people will only bring cacophony to the music you are trying to make. If you have an original idea, don't waste your time and effort trying to make people understand. They won't. And the help you will probably get comes in the form of negative feedback. If all those geniuses listened to their peers, we would probably still be living in the middle ages.
Spend time on it. I cannot stress that enough, although, please do not mistake this tip to tell you to quit your day job entirely. Do not. This involves some tricky time management but with a little discipline you'll be able to squeeze both in.
Exercise. Take a walk. Run a mile or two. Send all those endorphins coursing through your veins. Exercising certainly clears and relaxes your mind and allows for anything to pop up.
Record your dreams. Aren't some of them just the craziest things that your conscious mind would never have thought of? If you've had these dreams before, and I'm sure have, this only shows you the untapped innovative power you have lying within. So jot down those notes. Those dreams may just create an innovative spark in you.
Find your own style. You can always tell a Van Gogh from a Matisse. You'll know Hemingway wrote something by the choice of words on the paper. So it is the same with you. People will appreciate your innovation more because it is uniquely yours and that no one else would have thought of what you were thinking. That will let people see how valuable an asset you are.
Don't hide behind nifty gadgets or tools. You don't need the most expensive set of paints to produce a masterpiece. The same way with writing. You don't need some expensive fountain pen and really smooth paper for a bestseller. In fact, J.K. Rowling wrote the first book of the Harry Potter Series on bits of tissue. So what if you've got an expensive SLR camera if you're a crappy photographer? Who cares if you've got a blinging laptop if you can't write at all? The artist actually reduces the number of tools he has as he gets better at his craft: he knows what works and what doesn't.
Nothing will work without passion. What wakes you up in the mornings? What keeps the flame burning? What is the one thing that you'll die if you don't do? Sometimes people with talent are overtaken by the people who want it more. Think the hare and the tortoise. Ellen Degeneres once said that if you're not doing something that you want to do, then you don't really want to do it. And that's true. Sometimes you just want something so bad you become a virtual unstoppable. And that is passion. Passion will keep you going.
Don't worry about inspiration. You can't force it; inspiration hits when you least expect it to, for those unpredictable yet inevitable moments you should prepare. An idea could strike you on the subway, yet alas, you poor unfortunate soul; you have no sheet of paper to scribble down a thought that could change the world. Avoid these disasters. Have a pen and paper within your arm's reach at all times.
I hope this article has helped you bring more innovation into your life. Keep in mind that you're doing these things for your own satisfaction and not anybody else's. But soon enough they will notice, and everything should snowball from there.
Unleash Your Subconscious Mind Power
If you want to learn the true art of mind power then it is of the greatest importance you understand 2 functions of your mind, and also how they interact with each other...
You only possess one mind, but it has 2 totally different functions - and the names generally used to distinguish these 2 different functions are as follows.
1, The Conscious Mind
2, The Subconscious Mind
There are many other terms used. But the 2 listed above, are the ones used most to represent the 2 main functions of your mind.
To help us better understand the conscious and subconscious mind, they may be compared to a tree and its roots...
Solve Problems With A Word List
To creatively solve problems you need to get your mind looking in new directions. You can systematically do this by using a list of words, primarily adjectives, to create "what if?" scenarios. You start with the question, "what if it was..." and then insert a word from the list. The "it" in the question is the problem you're trying to solve, or the solution or situation that exists now.
Using "What If" To Solve Problems
An example will help explain the process. Assume your house is too crowded because you're running your business from it. You ask, "What if it was..." and insert from the word list, "smaller." The house is already too small, but could the business be smaller? The word "divided" might give you the idea to keep the business in just one part of the house.
Most words on the list won't help, so you can go through the irrelevant ones quickly. Don't automatically dismiss them, though, without a few seconds consideration. "What if it was hopeless?" may seem like a useless question, or it may make you realize that you just can't keep the business in the house any longer.
As with most problem-solving techniques, it's important to allow ideas to flow without judging them initially. Don't stifle the creative process. Evaluate your ideas later, when you're done with this part.
The Problem Solving Word List
You can create your own list of words. Use adjectives, descriptive phrases, and words that can change your perspective. These could include the following:
What if it was... larger, smaller, farther away, closer, sooner, later, easier, more difficult, higher, fat, rich, short, black, certain, hopeless, newer, boring, casual, subtracted from, cheaper, common, divided, more interesting, extravagant, subtle, or fun?
Problem Solving Games For Groups
Problem solving games are a natural when you want brain exercise and fun. Some of the best problem solving games can be played as a group. The added element of competition and "showing off" can stimulate some truly creative ideas. These games are especially good for long trips in a car, or for bored kids trapped inside by bad weather.
Best Ideas Game
This game uses a problem solving technique called "random presentation," and might even lead to some good money-making ideas. First, have someone look out the window or around the room and choose any object at random. Don't put any restrictions on this. It can be a rock on the side of the road, a stick laying in the yard, a truck, or anything at all.
Now everyone in the car or room can try to come up with the best way to make money with the chosen object. A street sign becomes a place to advertise, and trees are to be sold door-to-door. A truck can be used in a hundred ways to make money, but look for the best new way for the sake of the game maybe a traveling grocery store?
There is no winner or loser in this game. It is just an opportunity to let your imagination run wild, and to exercise your creativity. You may get a few laughs out of it too.
Concept Combination Game
Another good problem solving game for a group involves using a specific creative thinking technique, called "concept combination." You basically take two concepts or objects and combine them in some novel way. As a group game, the point is just to see who has the best idea.
What can you come up with from the combination of a chair and a microwave? Perhaps an easy-chair that has a cooler and microwave and television built in. Or microwaveable "couch potatoes" - a potato snack in the shape of a couch.
Change Of Perspective Game
You can also try the "change of perspective" technique for problem solving games. One way is to just take a topic ranging from morality to having a job, and see who can come up with the most unique (and perhaps coherent) new perspective? Could there be a world where there were no jobs? What would morality be to a virus if it had consciousness?
Once again, there are no losers in this game, or any of these types of games. It is just a chance to get creative and work that mind power. You could vote on the best idea if you want some sort of score keeping, but either way you'll enjoy these problem solving games.
Forget Conventional Dream Interpretation Learn To Cultivate Your Dreams Today
One of my favourite quotes of all time and I am sure many of you share my thoughts, is the speech by Martin Luther King at the civil rights march in Washington, 1963, which went like this:
"I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood..."
"I have a dream..." Indeed. Inspiring stuff. I want to discuss our dreams in a very practical way today.
I want to talk about how to cultivate your dreaming. It really is a tremendously valuable thing to do. I want to steer away from conventional dream interpretation and will explain why.
As of today, pay attention to your dreaming and your daydreaming. Dreams are important to us in many ways, because they do the following:
Firstly, when you dream you actively process information and feelings.
Secondly, dreams are always involving many senses, so the highly sensory experience is very rich. It is quite rare for us to use all our senses at once as we do when we dream.
Thirdly, dreams give us valuable information about what is going on in our lives, whether directly or more often in a disguised or symbolic form.
Fourthly, dreams are strongly sequenced, though often in a way which is emotionally rather than logically organised.
Finally, dreams draw upon a rich range of unconscious, associative, creative links between many kinds of information.
Some people remember their dreams; others tend to forget all but the most dramatic bits as soon as they wake. When you dream or daydream, take time to replay as much of it as you can in your mind before the events of the day overlay it. Relive the story of that dream. Remind yourself of the events, pictures, sensations and other sensory information it involved.
This dream was the product of your mind. Marvel at your own creativity! This is amazing stuff here; get excited by it.
If you get into the habit of asking yourself when you wake, "what did I dream?" you may at first only remember a few particularly strong feelings or vivid images: write them down and review it regularly. I actually used to write a dream journal and wrote everything down as soon as I opened my eyes each morning. It provided me with such inspiration when I required it.
Naturally, lots of you may want to start with dream interpretation straight away. Resist the urge for dream interpretation, ok?
Do your best not to assume that there is necessarily a single clear meaning which can be interpreted according to psychological theories or books on dream significance or dream interpretation. How can your dreams have the same meaning as someone else? Is your brain the same as that persons? For now, ease off the dream interpretation.
I have found that the most useful assumption to make about dreams is that they have some kind of significance for you, the dreamer: they come from your internal, unconscious mind's storehouse of feelings, experiences and images, and are an active and useful way of processing that is quite different from - and just as useful as - the processing that belongs to the logical conscious part of your mind.
Often a strong feeling will be your first clue to the meaning a dream has for you: so note it, and wonder about it, but don't try to rush to tie it down by conscious analysis. The real work of the dream is often done simply in the dreaming of it: the conscious mind does not always have to understand, and when it tries to translate dreams into its own terms it may be limiting it, just as poetry translated from another language usually loses something of its more subtle tapestry of meanings.
Think about the value of dreams.
Dreams demonstrate a different level of mental functioning from conscious, disciplined thought. When you pay attention to them, and even cultivate them, you are learning to become familiar with, to trust and to draw upon a fuller range of your own mental resources: in other words, you are using more of what you've got. Hey, this stuff is going to keep happening, so why not really use it.
The mind works both consciously and unconsciously. Conscious thought is formally taught in our education system. Its strength is its systematic and disciplined way of handling information. Its limitation is that it tends to be rule-bound and too narrow in its problem-solving approach.
The brain also processes information at an unconscious level: mostly, this is associative and depends on links, similarities and feelings. This processing produces dreams, as well as much of our other "creative" or "expressive" experience. That is why we are often surprised by the spontaneous connections we make or insights we have, and by our imaginative inspiration: it is not what we would have come up with consciously at all, yet it seems somehow completely "right". This way of thinking works "laterally" - it expands, goes sideways and finds multiple avenues rather than just one.
We need both kinds of functioning if we are to make the most of our brain power. Logic and intuition, discipline and divergence, are all vital tools that enrich and enable us. But whereas we are used to working with the conscious mind, in part because we are aware of it and can monitor it as it works, many people are less at ease trusting and using the unconscious processes. Paying attention to your dreams, and deliberately cultivating daydreaming, are both ways of stretching yourself into this area.
So let us have a look at the value of deliberate daydreaming. Where dreams come unbidden, you may find it useful to deliberately evoke the conditions for daydreaming, if, like many people, you have not really valued the activity before now.
How is it valuable? Daydreaming brings us escape and relaxation; visions of the future that inspire and help us to bring about what we have dreamed of; solutions to apparently unsolvable problems; inventions and creative possibilities. Daydream states allow the unconscious, associative parts of the mind to work in their own playful and imaginative ways, bringing not only pleasure but results that our usual deliberate, attentive, rational thought does not. We need space in our lives for both ways of processing if we are to realise ourselves as fully as possible.
The key to daydreaming is to be in that right state. If you want to practice, please visit my website and download the free hypnosis session there, or learn self-hypnosis, read my book "The Secrets of Self-Hypnosis" or invest in the self-hypnosis masterclass audio programme, there is nothing else as good in the world today, really there isn't. There is a kind of automatic abstractedness that goes along with daydreaming. Mostly it just seems to happen - but when you know about creating and changing states, you can choose to make it happen.
Here are some ways you can cultivate and work with your daydreams:
Firstly, notice when you have been daydreaming. Is there any pattern of circumstances that helps bring about your particular daydreaming state?
Some people find that repetitive, relatively automatic, activities such as jogging, ironing or walking create the right state. Perhaps it is a warm bath, swimming a few lengths, or sitting in the garden. Or it may be swaying to the movement of a train, staring into space, looking out of the window of a bus on the way to work, or going on a long drive.
Once you find what helps you daydream, use it and make space for it in your life on a regular basis, imagine that you are in that experience, recreate those circumstances inside of your mind. Let daydreaming come to you, and notice what kinds of windows it opens from our ordinary world into what other kinds of possibilities. Some of your best ideas and inspirations may come at these times.
Secondly, next time you have a decision to make, or a problem to solve, or a challenge to overcome, you can set up the circumstances so that you can trigger your daydreaming state - and allow yourself to explore your problem or decision in this way. When you have done so, make some notes of what you experienced and discovered. Add that to your conscious thinking on the subject: you now have much more information, and the advantage of having engaged more of your mental resources.
Thirdly, for today, forget dream interpretation. That is a conscious and limiting thing to do. Did I make myself clear? Forget conventional dream interpretation. For now use your dreams in personal ways to you.
Thinking Outside The Box The How To
When innovators talk about thinking outside the box, they mean coming up with creative ways to solve problems - new ways to look at things. How do they do it? How can you do it too? We first have to ask what the "box" is. Then we can look at how to get outside of it.
The "box" is the normal way of doing things and looking at things. It is the assumptions that almost everyone involved is making. The best way to start thinking out of the box then, is to identify and challenge all the assumptions that make up thinking inside the box.
One of the major liquor brands was faltering years ago, and they couldn't seem to boost their sales. Promotions, lowering the price, getting better shelf placement - these were the "in the box" solutions. Then someone challenged the assumptions, by asking "What if we stopped the promotions and just raised the price?"
The price was raised as an experiment, and sales soon doubled. As it turns out, some types of liquor are bought quite often as gifts. Buyers don't want to buy the most expensive one, but they also don't want to seem cheap, so they won't buy products that don't cost enough. Now imagine what happens to your profit margins when you raise the price and double the sales. That's the power of thinking outside of the box.
Ways To Get Outside The Box
Challenging assumptions is a powerful creative problem solving technique. The difficult part is to identify the assumptions. If you are designing a new motorcycle, write down assumptions like "speed matters," "it has to run on gas" and "it needs two wheels," not because you expect to prove these wrong, but because challenging these can lead to creative possibilities. Maybe the time has come for an electric three-wheeled motorcycle.
Another way to get to creative solutions is to "assume the absurd." This is either fun or annoying, depending on how open-minded you can be. All you do is start making absurd assumptions, then finding ways to make sense of them. The easiest way to do it is by asking "what if."
What if a carpet cleaning business was better off with half as many customers? It seems absurd, but work with it. Hmm...less stressful, perhaps. More profitable if each customer was worth three times as much. Is that possible? Commercial jobs that involve large easy-to-clean spaces (theaters, offices, convention halls) make more money in a day than houses, with fewer headaches. Focusing on getting those accounts could be the most profitable way to go - not so absurd.
Another way to more innovative ideas is to literally do your thinking out of the box. Get out of the house or the office. Look around at how others are doing things. On busses in Ecuador, salesmen put a product into everyones hands and let them hold it while they do a sales pitch. Then you have to give back "your" product or pay for it. It is very effective. How could you use the principle in your business?
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