Are there only very specific ways of solving problems – yes or no? The answer is no. With any given challenge, there is a multitude of ways to solve that challenge. The problem with most people is that they have a limited way of thinking. That is, they see a problem, think of one solution and conclude that there is just one solution.
What I want to bring you is a whole new way of thinking. When you look at something from a different perspective, or multiple perspectives, you gain an advantage over your competitors. You are able to offer solutions where others think there is none.
You’ve likely heard of the saying, “think outside the box.” Do you know where it comes from? Look at the 9 big dots on the page. They form a square or a box. How can you connect these 9 dots together using 4 straight lines, without lifting your pen from the paper? Remember, you want to think outside the box.
Are there other ways to do it? Sure! You can do it backwards, or start in any corner and go in any of three directions.
That’s a graphic example of moving outside the perceived box. Of course there is no box, only what we’ve come to accept as a pattern that appears to outline a box.
Another example, “What are the different ways to sell one million items – let’s say a book?” I’m sure you could start listing all the ways that are possible. You could sell some to your family members, to your friends, to your parent’s friends. You could sell some on the street corner. You could get other people to sell them for you. You could create a network of affiliates and have 100 affiliates sell 10,000 books each, or ... you could find 1,000 affiliates to sell just 1,000 each. You could put them on Amazon.com and the other online retailers and sell that way.
But what is the most productive way to sell one million books?
Have you heard of Occam’s Razor? Occam’s Razor is a principle attributed to the 14th-century English logician and Franciscan friar William of Ockham. The principle states that the explanation of any phenomenon should make as few assumptions as possible, eliminating those that make no difference. The principle is often expressed in Latin as the lex parsimoniae (“law of parsimony” or “law of succinctness”).
This is often paraphrased as “All other things being equal, the simplest solution is the best.” In other words, when you have various options, choose the simplest one. It is in this sense that Occam’s Razor is usually understood.
So the simplest method to sell one million books to find one buyer who will buy all the books.
So what I want to show to you today, what I want to prove to you, is that you can open your mind up to so many new potential ways of doing things, and as you do so, you expand your thinking and you gain great advantage over your competition. Not only that, it allows you to serve others at a higher level. If someone comes to you with a problem, you’ll be the one that will often be able to see so many different ways to solve that problem.
You are about to be presented with 7 separate mental puzzles. Your challenge is to first try to answer them on your own. Don’t spend more than 1.5 hours on these unless you want to. How many can you get right in 1.5 hours? Use the quiz form that is at the end of each puzzle and submit your answers. When you are finished, collaborate with your friends, family, or classmates who have also finished (don’t collaborate with those who haven’t completed the challenge) and come up with the ultimate solutions.