As children we love playing games. If we don’t have any games to play, we even create our own. Even when we create our own games, we tell the others about the “rules” of playing the games. You can’t have any game without rules because then the children won’t know how to play.
However within the rules, the children have so much fun and so much creativity. Even professional sports have well defined rules , but each player playing the game, is different in the way she plays. We love sports simply because we see how players use their talent to win against the competition.
However when we are faced with challenges in our work life, we end up thinking of all the constraints because of which we are not able to achieve our dreams and goals.
If we were to think of problems and constraints as rules of the games that we are supposed to play , wouldn’t life become much more enjoyable and fun. We would be at our creative best in trying to find a way out of the situation.
Children don’t have a fear of losing therefore they find different ways to win within the situation. If they lose, they dust it off within minutes and are ready to play the next game.
Our problem is that our ego comes in the way and we adopt a fixed mindset. This ego creates fear, which in turn stops us from trying out different things.
If you have been reading my blog posts, then you will know that fear is a way that our brain plays games with us so that it can conserve energy.
As with games, the more you practice the game, the better you become. Similarly the more problems/constraints you work on the better you become at solving them. Go at them with ferocity
Till next time then…enjoy life
When we are in school we are taught to follow a rule book and solve problems in a given manner. If you don’t solve it that way the teacher may actually deduct marks. There are benefits of this system, because it helps the teacher grade her students on a fixed set of parameters. It’s not good for the students because when they do go out in the real world they find moving targets with no method to directly use.
Since we get so used to being spoon fed through the school system, we are not able to think different possibilities.
One method which I use is to let people experience the challenge of the straight jacketed way of solving a problem. If I try telling people the challenges in their solution then they resist my ideas. So I tell them how I would go about it and then I ask them.
I ask them of how they think they would like to solve the problem. Once they tell me the solution and if I don’t think it might be a workable solution, I ask them to proceed with solving the problem their way. But I put a low risk milestone. Only if the low risk milestone can be realized, are they allowed to move ahead otherwise they have to find another way.
This way they don’t feel that I don’t listen to their ideas and I am also ‘not betting the whole farm’. In addition if their solution works then, I have learnt a new way to solve the problem. On the other hand if it doesn’t work, I can then tell them the reason why doing it my way has its benefits and they get to learn from me.
As we grow older, we get more and more fixated with our ideas and resist ideas from others. So if you try to push something , it doesn’t work . On the other hand you let them try their idea with a low risk outcome and then show the problems , they may be more willing to listen to your ideas.
Professional negotiators have a complete arsenal of these kind of techniques to get people to come to a win – win solution. Sales is another specialized negotiation. In yesterday’s post I had written about how you could use the same concepts.
Till next time then.
Yesterday I spoke about how the puzzles are so difficult for people like me to solve. Even though I talk a lot about being open to possibilities, to think laterally etc. there are times when you give up or come out with compromise solutions.
However the puzzles that we give children to solve, have a single solution which needs to be identified. Most children are able to solve these problems by trying multiple times with an open mind. They also don’t operate on time pressure generally.
In the corporate world we generally have time pressures, but maybe I could be using it sometimes as a excuse. However when we are dealing with humans in the problem, there is no fixed solution because human beings can change stance. Then we are dealing with a moving target.
The main thing about myself , I would think is that I run out of patience, in trying out different options. I think that’s one take away after working on the puzzles.
Working on these puzzles is addictive in nature. So some kinds of puzzles like the simple to medium Sudoku, and word puzzles I am able to solve quite fast. But puzzles like Mashu have taken me an enormous amount of time for me to figure out eventhough the instructions seem to be simple.
The big difference between children and me I think is that I tend to take the instruction as the only possibility and not trying out the possibilities that have not been listed, assuming they are not allowed. This is the biggest problem with most of us adults. We don’t try to identify unlisted assumptions and explore solutions using that.
Till next time then….see what other possibilities can be explored.
I was recently cleaning up a storage space in our house. I came across some books which my son had used at different stages of his schooling. Some of those books I gave away to my maid for her children.
There were a few books of puzzles, which were not used and then there a couple of books specifically for mathematical puzzles.
I started working on some of the puzzles. I had known about SuDoku and I used to enjoy the simple and medium difficulty ones. So I started with those. But then there were others like Kakuro, Hutoshiki, Heyawake and Mashu.
I tried my hand at Mashu initially but I got so engrossed that I didn’t have the time to go to the others I have listed above.
Mashu is all about drawing a pattern with one line which does not cross itself. As a concept this is very simple. But when you get down to drawing using the constraints that have been placed, it is just mind boggling.
Maybe as adults we get so fixed with our ideas, we don’t think of other possibilities. We use the same parameters to solve all problems. But children don’t put limits, hence for some of them these puzzles are literally “child’s play”.
I have still not been able to solve a single Mashu puzzle on my own without referring to the solution to give me a starting point. That’s how tough it seems to me. But it has also made me more humble and made me think ata few more ways now than I used to.
If you are fed up of your daily routine, try using the time you have spare and start solving puzzles, it will help you open up to possibilities for solving problems that you are faced with.
Till next time then.