My dad had a delightful way of viewing life. He combined his logical, linear left brain thinking skills with creative and intuitive right brain skills, and approached life with masterful intelligence, lack of judgement, humor and insatiable curiosity. He had a genius IQ, was a member of Mensa, a Mason and a college professor. He was creative, open minded, and loved thinking 'outside the box', decades before the now overused term was coined. When an elementary school teacher was annoyed with me for stating that half of 8 was 0, he was amused, because as we both knew, I could prove it! In a school system that limited us to finding the one and only answer, he encouraged me to keep looking.
"Experiment. Think. Use your brain. Don't accept anything anyone says as the only way. It will limit you."
After he died at the very young age of 46, there was no one to encourage me to think creatively. I watched as my classmates beamed with pride at knowing the one right answer, usually memorized, not thought out. I no longer dared verbalize a different perspective or point of view.
Half of eight is four. Period.
Or is it? Of course there is 0. Cut 8 in half horizontally and there is no denying it. Slice it vertically. It could be E. Could be 3. Turn 8 on it's side and slice it horizontally. You'll find an m or a w. If we begin with a roman numeral, half of VIII may still be VIII. And on it goes . . .
But why does thinking creatively matter? It's just a game . . . a trick . . . a diversion. Fluff, right?
My most valuable aha in regard to the power of creative thinking occurred in Washington D.C. when we attended Colin Powell's celebration of the 100 Best Communities to raise young people in the country. Harrisburg, PA was proud to be included, and the highlight of the trip was listening to the stories about other winning communities across the nation.
There was a town in West Virginia in economic decline. Coal mining had been their main source of revenue, but it was no longer lucrative and the young people were leaving their families and friends to find work in other areas. There was a sense of hopelessness as more and more people left the area, having given up on revitalizing the town. Their paradigm was the only way to make a living there was through coal mining.
Then they began to look for alternative solutions. Could anything be done in a coal mine other than mining coal? They began to look at the characteristics of the mines and discovered that the temperature in a coal mine was ideal for raising fish. A new industry was born and the town began to thrive. Families were able to stay together and the quality of life improved by quantum leaps.
Looking beyond the traditional correct answer can move us to new alternatives, and those choices can improve the quality of every aspect of our lives.
"My mission is
to help others see and cherish the beauty,
romance and treasures within and around them
that are often dismissed or completely overlooked."
For Earlier Posts visit