As a side effect in my life long study of human excellence, genius and creativity, I have discovered ONE particular thinking pattern that makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE in:
- understanding the world
- problem solving
- innovation and creativity
- and even inner harmony.
This is a meta filter which people LEARN, they are NOT born “that way”, and it is a really profound one that makes the difference between a great thinker and someone who isn’t, at the end of the day.
This filter is about whether a person sorts all manner of incoming information by difference, or by similarity.
Fascinatingly, across the board, children’s games are games of “difference”.
Spot the difference; Sesame Street’s “One of these things just doesn’t belong here …”; and many, MANY other strategies across the board and all the educational modalities reward this “sorting by differences”.
The side effect of sorting by difference is to compartmentalise the world into ever smaller blocks of detail; this leads directly, and I mean directly, in completely logical cause and effect fashion to losing the ability to “see the big picture”.
In neuro-linguistic terms, the movement from a normal sized picture into more and more detail is called “chunking down”.
This is when we stop looking at the car, and instead focus on a single wheel, and then the hub of a single wheel, and the the screw with the hub, and then a single turn of the screw, and deeper and deeper into the details of the thing, until we’re in quarks and neutrons territory and no-one knows or cares that we ever started with a bright red motor car.
Now, there is nothing wrong per se with “chunking down” into details of a thing; where it becomes immensely DANGEROUS for a person, and for many people in their collective societies, is when EVERYBODY thinks like that – apart from a few “visionaries” that is, of course, who will become the leaders.
A general MUST be able to see the bigger picture; a king must; an industry leader; ANY leader MUST have the magical ability to zoom out and perceive huge arrays of objects IN PERSPECTIVE in order to discover the meta patterns that make up the WHOLE situation.
In the education systems the world over, children are not raised and trained to become LEADERS. That explains why the “downchunk movement” into detail is being taught and fostered at every turn; people who are only comfortable with “small chunk thinking” and will turn immediately to chunking down EVEN FURTHER in moments of crisis, because that movement is THE ONLY movement they know and are familiar with, make great soldiers, factory workers, low level clerics – great ants, in other words.
But the fact is that to “think in the opposite direction”, to zoom out to see the bigger picture, is a simple as a child’s game – we just need to reverse it.
Instead of playing endless versions of, “What’s the difference?” we start asking instead, “What’s the SAME?”
It is then the meta patterns become revealed and the MOVEMENT OUT towards the “bigger picture” begins to occur naturally.
This is such a simple, and yet such an INCREDIBLE thing.
We may ask, “What’s THE SAME about a black boy, and a white boy?” and the answer is ready and clear – “They’re both boys!”
We may ask, “What’s the SAME about a little boy and a little girl?” and we may receive the answer, “They’re both human beings.”
EVERY person needs to be able to ZOOM BOTH WAYS – into the details, and out to biggest possible picture, and back again.
EVERY person CAN do that – it is just a question of encouraging the neglected and secret “bigger picture” movement from an early age, and THAT in itself is as simple as to say to a child, “What’s THE SAME about your teddy and your doll?”
For any adult who seeks to really re-connect to their own creativity and POWER TO DETECT THE META PATTERNS of our lives and our environments, it is the same game.
“What’s THE SAME about the last five movies you’ve watched? What’s THE SAME about the last 15 successful advertising campaigns the competitors ran? What’s THE SAME about me and other people?”
There is a structural re-connection that is astonishing which occurs so naturally as a by product of asking that simple question, which is indeed profound, and profoundly healing.
I do believe that the answers lie in the meta patterns, and in our ability to PERCEIVE THEM CLEARLY.
If we get, as individuals AND as societies, those meta patterns right, then the details will NATURALLY take care of themselves – that’s the way it works.
“They” say that the devil lies in the detail – it could well be so that salvation can be found indeed, in all of us starting to pay much more attention to “the bigger picture”.