The Monday Morning Memo: Thinking Outside the Box Part Two: If You’ve Got the Nerve

Monday-Morning-Memo-Logo1By Roy H. Williams

“The brain has three natural roadblocks that stand in the way of truly innovative thinking:

1. flawed perception

2. fear of failure

3. the inability to persuade others.”

– Dr. Gregory Berns, neuroscientist, psychiatrist, and Distinguished Chair of Neuroeconomics at Emory University.

Memo-102008Need a fresh perspective? Want to alter your perception, think new thoughts, create a whole new paradigm?

1. Look at a map of your city. Choose an area unfamiliar to you. Drive there, then get out and walk for an hour. Call a friend to come and pick you up.

2. Go into a restaurant you suspect you won’t like. Order something weird.

3. Sit at a bus stop for 30 minutes. Talk with whoever sits down next to you.

4. Attend the worship services of a faith that is not your own.

5. Read out loud to someone else The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost.

6. Watch How to Hype a Black and Mild on YouTube. (7 min., 38sec.)

7. Attend ESCAPE THE BOX, the advanced session of Free the Beagle at Wizard Academy.

“It typically takes a novel stimulus – either a new piece of information or getting out of the environment in which an individual has become comfortable – to jolt attentional systems awake and reconfigure both perception and imagination. The more radical and novel the change, the greater the likelihood of new insights being generated.” – p.58, Iconoclast, by Gregory Berns.

If you’re like most people, you read that quote from Greg Berns last week and said, “I get it,” but then you didn’t actually do anything.

James Michener won the Pulitzer Prize in 1948 for his book, Tales of the South Pacific. He went on to earn more than one hundred million dollars as the author of more than 40 novels.

At age 88, Michener wrote, “When young people in my writing classes ask what subjects they should study to become writers, I surprise them by replying: ‘Ceramics and eurhythmic dancing.’ When they look surprised I explain: ‘Ceramics so you can feel form evolving through your fingertips molding the moist clay, and eurhythmic dancing so you can experience the flow of motion through your body. You might develop a sense of freedom that way.’” – This Noble Land, chap.10

But it’s unlikely that any of his students ever took those classes. They just thought, “Form and freedom. I get it,” and carried on as they were, unchanged. But I’m convinced Michener meant what he said. His advice to his students was to push themselves to do things that didn’t come naturally to them. He urged them to stir the deep waters of the unconscious mind.

Transformation happens experientially, not intellectually. James Michener knew this. Dr. Gregory Berns knows this. Dr. Richard D. Grant knows this. And now you know it, too.

Two and a half years ago I wrote, “Humans are peculiar creatures. We are capable of much, yet do little. Doubt, insecurity, fear and ambition blind our wide-open eyes to the colors of meaningful life. We hibernate, deep in the bellies of our comfort zones... Do you want to expand your world? Meet interesting people? Learn about different cultures? Then get on your hands and knees, drop to your belly and squirm under the fence that surrounds your insulated life.” – from the preface and back cover of People Stories, Inside the Outside.

 Cognoscenti Dave Lofranco came to me recently and said, “Let’s actually do what Michener said. If you’ll find a dance instructor and a pottery teacher, I’ll donate the money to buy a commercial pottery-firing kiln.” I presented Dave’s idea at the next meeting of the board of directors of Wizard Academy. Clinical psychologist Dr. Richard D. Grant was energized by the thought and a whole new class was born. Check it out.

Will you do the deed, take the action, pull the trigger and ride the bullet? Or will you, like those students of Michener, think to yourself, “I get it,” and consider the lesson learned?

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