Approach a Problem on its Own Terms

Imagineer7's Weblog

FIVE PENCILS One of the many ways in which we have become cognitively lazy is to accept our initial impression of the problem that it encounters. Once we settle on an initial perspective we don’t seek alternative ways of looking at the problem. Like our first impressions of people, our initial perspective on problems and situations are apt to be narrow and superficial. We see no more than we expect to see based on our past experiences in life, education and work.

Years ago at St. Bonaventure University, Father Tom, a Franciscan monk, nonchalantly laid five pencils out on a table and asked “what’s this?” I had no idea what he meant, so he said “well, this is a five.” Then he picked up one of the pencils and laid it across the other four, and asked “what’s this?” I still didn’t know, so he said “this is a four.” I started…

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