💡 Life Tip - Try to See Things with Fresh Eyes (Issue #29)
You're often too close to a problem to notice a simple solution
Are you facing a problem that you just can't seem to solve?
Do you feel like you’ve been spinning your wheels trying to fix it?
Well, the answer you’re seeking may be right in front of your face. But you can't see it because it feels too familiar and seems too obvious.
That can’t be it, right?
That won’t work, will it?
How could it be that simple?
In psychology, we call this the Einstellung effect. We have the predisposition to solve a problem in a specific way even though a better problem-solving method exists. When this happens, people overlook the simplest solutions and explore more complex ones.
I remember the experimental example our professor gave us during the graduate course when I learned about it. People were faced with a tower computer and monitor on a desk that wouldn’t turn on (do you remember the world before laptops existed?). They checked all the connecting cables, unplugged them, and plugged them back in. Some even started opening the computer case to see if they could diagnose what was wrong.
The solution? The computer tower’s power cable wasn’t plugged into the wall outlet behind the desk. They just needed to plug the computer in.
I know it sounds silly. Who would do that? But, I’m sure you know quite a few people who make problems more difficult than they need to be. This has happened several times in my life.
I remember overlooking an obvious solution because I was too familiar with the problem and couldn’t see it with fresh eyes. I only paid attention to the real answer to my problems when multiple friends kept pointing it out (e.g., “Have you tried this?”). They could see what I could not.
I resisted because I was so certain it wouldn’t work, and I didn’t want to waste my time on it. But, when I finally tried the simple solution, I was surprised by how easy and obvious it was.
Some people refer to this as “seeing with the eyes of a child.” Remember when everything was new to you and you didn’t think you had all the answers? You were curious, explored everything, and asked lots of questions.
Similarly, James Altucher talks about viewing the world as if you’re an alien visiting from another planet. You don’t know anything about this world. So, you would never assume to have the answers to problems you don’t understand at all. You would explore, test, poke and prod, and learn instead of trying to apply the same old solutions you do every day on your home planet.
So, you can try this technique of clearing your mind and viewing a problem from a naive perspective the next time you’re feeling stuck. It’s not easy, and it does take some practice. But, eventually it’s a problem-solving tool you can keep handy in your toolkit.
However, this is also why it helps to discuss your problems and issues with a trusted friend, family member, advisor, peer circle, or coach. As they listen, they’ll notice details and patterns you don’t.
I just experienced this in a group call with my own coach earlier this week. One of the participants was struggling a little to build an audience because they were so sick of social media. They had tried Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, but really disliked the toxic nature of some of the interactions (e.g., good ol’ Twitter trolls).
Knowing what she did and her ideal audience, I asked if she had tried using Pinterest to reach people. It’s quite different from the other platforms and many of her ideal clients spend a lot of time there. Surprisingly, she hadn’t explored using it! But, she’s going to give it a try now.
See? Fresh eyes. She was too close to the problem to see an obvious potential solution.
Try this technique the next time you’re feeling stuck!
Hi, I’m Larry Cornett, a Personal Coach who can work with you to optimize your career, life, or business. My mission is to help you take complete control of your life so you can become a more “Invincible You.” I currently live in Northern California near Lake Tahoe with my wife and our Great Dane.