Welcome back! We join the story in progress. The Prince of Belle has learned several techniques for generating creating solutions to problems, including Breaking Routine, Constant Questioning, Journaling and Brainstorming. There are two more techniques that will be discussed in this segment: Random Provocation and Doing Nothing. Join us around the fire as Tony begins to teach the prince about Random Provocation.
Coming up with ideas with Random Provocation
All of the magicians were around the fire along with the Prince of Belle. They were all listening to their informal leader, Tony, as he continued teaching techniques to generate creative ideas. The group has been taught several creativity techniques, now Tony is talking about one of the most powerful techniques for creating truly novel ideas: Random Provocation.
Tony looked at the rapt attention on the faces of his fellow magicians and the prince, smiled broadly and continued teaching. “To move our minds off of the beaten track, to find new and unique combinations of thoughts and ideas, we have to find a way to make connections between disparate thoughts and ideas that ordinarily would never come together.”
“The technique we use most often is called Random Provocation. This technique was created by a brilliant man named Edward DeBono. Here is what you do. Take the word, concept, idea or problem that you are working on, and randomly find a word, any noun or verb, and try to make connections between the random word and the problem on which you are working.”
“In previous lesson, I asked you to come up with as many ideas as you could for extra blankets that we had. We used the technique of brainstorming and found that, while it generated ideas, there was a finite number and nothing extraordinarily original. To use the technique of Random Provocation, I might try to mentally connect the word blanket to some random word, maybe noose. That might taking my thinking into an area of constricting or tying, which could maybe lead me to cutting up blankets into strips and making ropes or fishing nets.”
“That is the entire technique. Elegant and simple, it is a very powerful way to get our brains to break out of the patterned way that our thinking always organizes itself, and finds solutions not possible to generate using other methods.
How do you get random words?
“There are many ways to get random words. You can open a book to a random page and point to a word with your eyes shut, choosing the word you are pointing to as your random word. You could ask a passerby for a word. You could create a list of random words, number them, then roll dice, working with the word associated with that number.”
The prince nodded his head excitedly, intrigued by the thought that even more ideas could come forth. Suddenly, he remembered the two promises Tony had made him at the beginning of the evening.
“Tony” said the prince. “You made me two promises this evening. One has certainly become true—I have had many more ideas than I ever thought possible. I must be honest with you, though. Your second promise, that I will begin to believe that the impossible is possible, is still a long way off. These exercises are fun, but what about applying them to real problems? I still don’t believe you when you say you can pull a ten- foot-long wooden pole out of your satchel. And what about the challenges facing me at home? I do not yet believe that I can overcome those impossible tasks!”
“Patience my royal friend, patience” said Tony with a smile. “Sometimes you just need time to simply sit and think. Trust us and believe that by the end of our time together, you will see that the impossible is possible.”
Come up with ideas by Doing Nothing
Surprisingly, the prince retorted quickly in a somewhat sarcastic tone. “Time to simply sit and think, huh? I’ll tell you what — I feel comfortable with you all enough by now to say that must be pure sausage stuffing! How hard is it to simply sit and think? Is there really the need to formally teach me how to sit and think?”
By way of answering, Art asked the other magicians a question. “Do you all remember the craftsman that used to sit in the town square all day long? You could always find him sitting against one of the old stone walls, gazing off into the distance. The other craftsmen began complaining: “Why is it that the man just sits and stares all day. Why isn’t he made to work like the rest of us?” The master put his finger to his lips and whispered “Shh!, he’s working. One day while he gazed into the distance he thought of a profitable idea that filled the king’s coffers for years.”
Tony smiled at Art for his wise contribution, then continued the lesson “Remember, doing nothing is sometimes the most important work of all.”
Act before Thinking, Aim before Firing
“The consequences of plunging into action without forethought can be devastating. I mentioned before that your fellow princes have already failed in their attempts to overcome the four challenges set forth by the poor-but-wise-man. The second prince, the Prince of Lanti, did not stop to think to learn anything about the failure of the Prince of Arbor, who drowned in the river. The Prince of Lanti just jumped in, believing that he could succeed solely on the strength of his convictions. He actually did succeed, at that challenge anyway, by literally stepping on the head of his competition.”
“So…” The prince began, but he was cut off with a smile by Tony.
“So how does one go about learning to sit and think?” asked Tony with a laugh, anticipating his practical Prince’s question.
“First you must learn everything you can about the issue at hand.”
“Second you must forget everything you learned.”
“By that I don’t mean forget what you have learned, but to consciously give some time not to think about the problem and everything you’ve learned. Your mind will still be working on creative solutions, below the level of your awareness. When it is ready, your brain will let you know, subtly, that some ideas have been formulated.”
“It is so simple, and yet so difficult. First, you must quiet your mind. This can be done simply by sitting or laying down in a comfortable position, closing your eyes, and then focusing on your breathing. Try to think of nothing but your breath. If other thoughts enter your mind, acknowledge them, and let them pass, always coming back to the breath. Trust that you will hear the answers that you seek. Be listening to your intuition. It could take days, weeks or even longer to come up with solutions. If you trust your magnificent brain to create, give it time, then be prepared to quietly listen when you feel an answer is nigh.”
Tony looked at his eager pupil and could see that, as excited as he was, he had had enough for the evening. He spoke to the group, saying “Let us stop for the evening. We will reconvene in a few days’ time. When we meet next, we will discover how to control fear!”
A note from the Author
Alright! Great stuff! In the next segment, you will learn to deal with fear. You can have the best ideas in the world, but without them being implemented, who cares? Often creative ideas are not pursued because of FEAR. In segment 5, we will learn how to deal with four-letter monster.
Copyright © 2020 Gerard A. Evanski. All rights reserved. Reproduction and distribution without written permission of the author is strictly prohibited.