Sideways Thinking About Obstacles

This has been a day of obstacles. I woke up this morning and my right wrist was throbbing and aching. It's not an unusual problem for me. About 18 months ago, during a very busy time at work, my wrist began to swell and ache. Physical therapy and a wrist brace seemingly corrected the problem.

But now it's back. Typing hurts.

To make matters worse, for the past few weeks, my broadband has been flaky. My provider has come out twice, replaced components, done testing, and when he left both times, all was well. But this morning, my broadband is terribly slow. It's lost about 92% of its performance.

To put it mildly, it's been a frustrating morning. But this morning's been a great opportunity to overcome obstacles with lateral thinking.

I think you may already have a rough idea of what lateral thinking is. Simply put, it's stepping outside of well-established approaches to problem solving by taking a sideways look at the problem.

So let's consider my wrist. If I used my usual approach, I'd use a habitual method of dealing with my pain. I would have asked myself "how can I manage the pain while doing my work?" I'd typically try this approach:

  • Rub a painkilling cream into my wrist
  • Take some Tylenol
  • Put a wrist brace on
  • Start typing my work
  • Ignore the pain and hope it goes away

But today, I'm trying a different approach. I asked myself a lateral question: "Typing hurts. How can I type without typing?"

And to accomplish that, the first time, I'm using voice dictation software (built into Windows 7) instead of my keyboard. I'm using it to write this post so that I'm completely resting my right wrist.

That's a lateral approach to solving this problem. It's so easy to use well-worn approaches to problem solving that our creativity and results often suffer.

Also, I know full well that my wrist needs rest. But caught between that need and the need to produce copy, I'd default to pushing through the pain and running the risk of making it worse.

That's a habitual approach that gets me past a short-term problem at the risk of long-term difficulty. So often, that's what we do. We ought to be looking for a new and better way.

I'm resolved to use voice dictation for all of my writing this week to give my wrist a rest. And I'm going to be looking for new ways to improve my copy, deliver better marketing, and run my business more efficiently.

This is going to be a week of change for me. I'll let you know how it goes.

If you're looking for a little education on lateral thinking, you can certainly start with the Wikipedia article. But there's a better source. I'm a fan of Edward De Bono. He's a revolutionary thinker who has added a vast repertoire of skills and ideas to the world of creative thought. He invented lateral thinking. If you haven't read his work, Google him and see what you turn up.

And while you're doing that, I'd welcome your thoughts. Any other ideas for fixing my wrist?

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Published: August 27, 2012

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