It’s hopeless! There is no solution!
Many of us give up, stopping way short of creative solutions. Our minds tend to fixate on past efforts that have failed and avoid new possibilities. We repeat the same mistakes.
This is particularly common in depression–the hopelessness disease. The good news is that we can challenge our mind to think differently. There is always hope.
Our thoughts tell us to quit but I dare you to push ahead despite your fiendish cognitions and exhaustive feelings.
In this post I will share a technique I learned from Ravinder Tulsiani, a leadership expert that has written an excellent book called Your Leadership Edge.
Before we get to the technique, I want to invite you to refer to problems as challenges instead. This changes the tone from negative baggage to endless possibilities.
Now the technique…
The first step is to write down your challenge in 40 words. Afterwards, you present the same challenge but this time in only 20 words. You continue the same process of cutting the amount of words in half until you reach 5 words. This forces you to bottom line sans extraneous details.
I like this technique because it reminds me of a game I play in Improv Comedy called 60-30-15-5. In this game, you perform a scene in 60 seconds and then repeat the same scene in 30, 15 and finally 5 seconds. It makes for a hilarious spectacle and also teaches us that brevity and wit are comrades.
Let’s try the 40-20-10-5 technique using an example from a fictional person named Carmelo. (Carmelo is a swello dude but…)
He feels he works in a dead-end job and that being 50, it is too late for him to start a new career. He feels hopeless.
His first step is to write down his challenge in 40 words. (Try to make it exactly 40 ). You might think, “what’s the point,” but when we challenge our mind with obstacles and constraints in a playful way, it increases creativity.
PROBLEM: How can I start a new career so late in life and is it really worth getting a new job when my current one is pretty easy and I’m already established with a daily routine even though I hate it.
Yes, it is a run on sentence, but that’s okay. Notice how Carmelo has added opinions and concerns to his challenge statement. Now Carmelo needs to cut down the problem to 20 words.
PROBLEM: How can I start a new career or get a new job when I’m already established in an easy one?
Cut in half and exactly 20 words! As he does this, the mind will begin to let go of information that is not needed. The next challenge is to get it to 10 words.
PROBLEM: How can I start a new career or new job?
Notice that when you get down to 10 words, the worries go to the wayside. There is no mention of age constraints or being established.
The last challenge is to get the problem down to 5 words.
PROBLEM: I want a new job.
The crucial factor is Carmelo’s wish for a new job. He has simplified his challenge statement. Sometimes, we stifle creativity by prematurely bogging ourselves down with barriers. The beauty of this technique is to avoid obstructions early on and instead get to the heart of the matter.
Carmelo might later decide that he doesn’t want to leave his job, but for now he is working with a concise and clear challenge. In future blogs, we will take this to the next step and feature the “Drill Down” and “Mind Mapping” techniques.
I hope this post sparks a shift inside you from hopelessness to abundant possibilities!