The author Richard Wiseman in his book “59 Seconds” shared a very beautiful analogy which I can’t resist sharing with you. There were two guys in a room, both were told to come up with something creative. The first guy, shy but extraordinarily creative. The second guy, less creative but very vocal in nature.
When the boss told them to come up with something new. The second guy persuaded the first since he had all those people skills and managed to pitch his idea to the boss. In the end, the boss instead of having an extremely creative person in his team ended up with a mediocre idea.
The shy guy is our subconscious mind, and the one with all the people’s skill is our conscious mind.
Richard Wiseman says that group brainstorming is a myth. It’s a bold thing to say since every other company uses it for almost anything, but he has got his statistics and research from the psychologists which say otherwise.
He says (and I found it true for at least myself) that when we are in a group most of us stay in a dormant state. We only speak (most of us) when we no longer could stay silent. So if the motive of the group brainstorming is to collect ideas without criticizing anybody else, we end up accepting ideas from only a few people in the group, people who are outspoken(who may not be as creative as a shy guy in the room who is the most creative of them all).
Dr. Richard suggests that we should not brainstorm with too many people in the room, 3-4 people are enough and by reducing the number to the minimum we can get maximum participation from all the candidates which lead to a greater probability of coming up with creative ideas.
Time to time we all get stuck (honestly, I get stuck and get out of it every single day). I know how frustrating it is to get stuck. Problems are annoying until we have found the solutions. So is there any way to get to the solution faster?
Actually, yes. There is a way.
Remember the subconscious? The part of our brain which we have trouble accessing. It’s unbelievable, it has the key to every solution and we all have it. How awesome it would have been if we all have regular access to its powers.
In “59 Seconds”, the author Richard Wiseman suggests using your subconscious mind to solve any problem, by letting your subconscious work in the background. It can easily be achieved by letting the problem go from the conscious mind and focusing the attention towards something totally different for some time(say 15 minutes). By doing that the subconscious mind comes up with solutions and gives it back to conscious which is easily accessible.
While there was no question that the attack occurred and that some neighbors ignored cries for help, the portrayal of 38 witnesses as fully aware and unresponsive was erroneous. The article grossly exaggerated the number of witnesses and what they had perceived. None saw the attack in its entirety. Only a few had glimpsed parts of it or recognized the cries for help. Many thought they had heard lovers or drunks quarreling. There were two attacks, not three. And afterward, two people did call the police. A 70-year-old woman ventured out and cradled the dying victim in her arms until they arrived. Ms. Genovese died on the way to a hospital.
– The New York Times
One of my relatives shared a story of how nobody on the road helped him when he met with an accident where he was severely injured. Coincidently I was reading about “Murder of Kitty Genovese”, an American woman who was stabbed to death outside her apartment in the New York City, on March 13, 1964. There were 38 witnesses who saw or heard her cry but none of them called 911(the emergency number in the US).
There is a reason why 38 people behaved in that way, there is a reason why nobody helped my relative when he met with an accident. It is not that we all have forgotten humanity. Not at all. Tough it may seem like it and many believe that overall humanity level has been decreasing and I can’t argue with that.
When we are in a group, we think differently, we think it’s not our responsibility, we think someone else would take care of it. On the other hand when we are alone or when we are in a group of a few, the responsibility is divided equally and we end up doing the right thing instead of procrastinating it for the others.
Richard Wiseman suggests that if you collapse on a busy road ask for help directly to any friendly face. By doing that you are much more likely to get a help than by just waiting for someone to help you.
We eat much more than usual if eat in front of a TV or more generally put a distraction. It’s true that eating while watching is much more fun but it’s not good for health. In the book “59 Seconds” the author also suggested eating slowly.
The communication between the brain and stomach is little slower than the other organs. The brain doesn’t immediately register that the stomach is full, it surprisingly takes whopping 20 minutes for the brain to fully comprehend that it is full. It gets worse if we eat with a distraction meaning a movie.
In the last post I shared about Doublethink, it was one of the craziest ideas which came into existence in the novel “1984” by George Orwell and although it sounded completely fictional I shared how we employ Doublethink in our life as well.
That said, the author Richard Wiseman in his book, “59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot” shared how we can even employ Doublethink for productivity.
Talk about crazy ideas.
Employing Doublethink is actually easy and you may have done it in the past without realizing it (I know because I have done it unknowingly, though). It basically involves enlisting and describing the pros and cons of achieving a particular goal. By looking at both pros and cons our mind makes a better judgment out of it and we end up achieving our goal much faster.
The ability to hold two contradictory thoughts at the same time is called doublethink. I first came across this word when I was reading the book, “1984” by George Orwell. The concept is tricky to understand and it means that a person can hold a thought where two plus two equal four and two plus two equal five. And the person will not have any difficulty believing it.
You might say that if one knows that two plus two is equal to four how can one say that it can be anything but four and that was the trick I was mentioning earlier.
Pretty intense stuff.
You must be thinking that concept like doublethink may only appear in the dystopian universe but they actually exist in real life too.
“You must stand out BUT you must fit in”
“You must follow your dreams AND find a secure job”
Writing things down have much more effect than merely sharing it with others. We know that if a painful memory is shared the pain gets halved it is true but not always. In the book “59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot” the author Richard Wiseman shared that writing things down have much more impact than sharing it with others.
This I have experienced personally, and I did it when I had no idea about what I was doing. At that time I was preparing for senior secondary examination and I remember one day I sat down and wrote everything which was bothering me at that time. Nobody told me to do that, I actually had no one to tell. The problems which I was having at that time weren’t that a big deal (now that I think about it) but they appeared to be huge at that time.
I remember that I never bothered to look at those piece of papers again. But I do remember that I things which I wrote down on that day never bothered me again. It was as if I had forgotten all about it. It was pretty amazing. The memories all back to me when I read about writing things down from my current book.
Long time back one of my friends at TCS shared a story of an Indian entrepreneur (I totally forgot his name, though) who shared in an interview, that how he managed to pass through the customs while coming to India when he had a couple of laptops in his bags which if checked would have been seized. He related the incident and said that he used the “Ben Franklin Effect”. When my friend shared this story I was in awe and we thought of it as some magic.
In the book “59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot” the author Richard Wiseman shared the story behind this phenomenon and the reason why is it called the Ben Franklin Effect. You can read more about it from the wiki link by clicking here.
To summarize, Franklin Effect is basically asking for a favor and specifically a small one. And it turns out that the person giving you the favor will like you and will do another one if needed.
Very beautiful and elegant hack of life.
This 200 years old concept still holds true, and it was the reason why the Customs guy did not check the entrepreneur bag as he asked for a bottle of water while he was there waiting in line to be checked. Obviously, there is no way we can prove his case if it was because of the Franklin Effect or not as shared by the entrepreneur but there have been countless experiments which show that this works.