Did you know that you had a secret weapon to help you solve complex and
perplexing problems? It is available to each and every one of us whether
we know it or not, whether we use it or not.
Do you want to know what it is? I knew you would… it’s your
Stay with me here… and don’t roll your eyes! This is not some
hocus-pocus new age revolution or a pie-in-the-sky theory. This is a fact
and if you’re not taking advantage of it you are missing out big time.
The best way to explain it is with an example of how I used it just
It has been very hot up here in the mountains (at least to me!) and I
don’t do well in the heat. We have central air conditioning for the
first level but my office is on the lower level and is way too hot for me
to concentrate. So, I set up a makeshift office upstairs and wired it so I
could operate my desktop computer (downstairs) from upstairs using my
notebook computer. There is special software to do this and I couldn’t
get it to work properly: I could operate the laptop from the desktop, but
not the other way around, which is the way I needed it to work.
I tried everything: technical support at the manufacturer’s website,
other user groups on the Internet, comparing the settings on the different
computers (after all, it worked one way, why won’t it work the other
way??), reading documentation, "help" files, etc. To complicate
the situation, I was using an older version of the software which was no
longer supported. Needless to say, I was very frustrated and out of
options; I couldn’t think of anything else to try.
That’s when I decided to use my "secret weapon". I realized
that I was spinning my wheels, that there must be a solution that I just
couldn’t see, and that I would be able to figure it out more quickly if
I put it away and let my subconscious work on it for me.
Sure enough, within a few hours I had four new ideas to try. At 2:00
a.m. I woke up with another one, which turned out to be the solution to
It’s kind of ironic isn’t it? Sometimes the best way to solve a
problem is to stop working on it!
The secret is to take your mind off of it. Go on to something else. It
doesn’t have to be an activity that is related to the problem; in fact I
believe that the larger the difference in activities, the better your
result will be.
My wife is good at this. We often have animal-related problems to solve
such as how to take care of them when we need to go somewhere, or how to
keep the dogs away from the flower pots, or how to allow the cats on the
deck but not out into the forest. She thinks about it a while and then
goes on to the next thing. Before you know it, she has the perfect
solution; it just pops into her mind while she is doing something that has
nothing whatsoever to do with the problem.
Try it. It works.