Great athletes create amazing performances with unbelievable consistency. Composed, mentally tough, emotionally controlled or simply determined and focused.

Have you set your goals?

Do you know what you want to achieve?

Sharp and clearly defined goals are valued by athletes, business-people and achievers from all sorts of fields. So, goal setting must be a great thing. But our thinking should never stop, we should never be satisfied. Things may be good but there might be an even better solution. So is there a better way that goal setting?

Goal setting is often described as a powerful way for motivating yourself. Thinking about your ideal future and setting goals is assumed to help you choose where you want to go in life. Knowing what you want to achieve focuses your attention and helps you organise your time.

Sport psychologists have found that by putting the problem alongside the solution in one sentence is more effective than goal-setting. If athletes remind themselves daily about the link they will automatically choose the more desirable solution. The planning becomes an automatic solution to the problem.

Playing sports can lead to strong emotional responses, particularly before, during and after competition. There is nothing strange about this since these experiences are filled with emotional challenging situations. Yet we often carry over emotions that we experience in daily life to other situations. An athlete who has had a stressful day at work tends to become more emotional when engaging in sport. An athlete needs to become aware of how to use strategies to up-regulate emotions such as excitement and down-regulate feelings such as sluggishness.

Success shapes and changes our field of action.

  • A tennis ball looks smaller when you are tired (this makes it more difficult to hit the ball).
  • A hill looks steeper if you are carry heavy weights.
  • A problem looks more difficult when you are frustrated.

Teaching athletes to uses proactive coping skills has turned out to be a successful method.

  • Helping them to in identifying barriers to goal attainment
  • Encourage them to reflect on their goals
  • Identify the qualities and skills needed
  • Find ways to prevent or minimise hurdles.

I need to learn to relax because I get anxious and these feelings prevent me from focusing on what I need to do to score a goal, perform Beethoven’s violin concert, to be more focused at work. . .

If category – Consists of emotions and factors that prevents you from achieving

  • Tired
  • Over-excited
  • Lack of focus
  • Too relaxed
  • Too stressed
  • Angry
  • Sad

Then category consists of skills you can use.

  • Imagine myself succeeding
  • Focus of recent techniques or approaches that were successful
  • Tell yourself that you can stay focused, calm. . .

A violin student could say :

If I feel tired towards the end of the piece, then I will focus on making loud vibratoes.

A person having difficulties getting new ideas could say:

If I feel tired, then I will focus on having two good idea by the end of the day.

Repeating these “If – then” statements 5 times a day will reinforce the use of these strategies and the responses will become automatic.

The difficult bit is to write the “If then” statements so a bit of brain workout is needed. If you want some more ideas for reflective thinking, go here to look at our Thinkibility notebook.

Photo: “Inspire On Smartphone Shows Stimulation” by Stuart Miles

Loving the Idea of a Creative Idea, but. . .


Everyone loves the idea with a creative idea. But, there is a big but, this is not the same as embracing an idea. Or testing the idea, or even considering the interesting and positive aspects with the idea. Probably the biggest obstacle to innovative initiatives is a negative response. Or lack of response. The dreaded endless silence after you have put forward a suggestion.

Many ideas are easy to test such as the idea about walking meetings from Funny or Die. A creative idea is put forward in the video – walking meetings. Too much sitting is bad for us and walking meetings is good not only for health purposes, but to get out of the office and to keep meetings short.

Take a moment to reflect on this idea. What is your response?

This idea costs in principle nothing to try out and it is easy to test. Yet many people simple reject the idea. Critical and negative comments may be put forward. But even if some ideas are easy to test, the problem is more of lack of ways of thinking related to new ideas. Every new idea should be explored by using a simple and quick tool called PMI – plus, minus and interesting. A quick exploration where you focus on three different aspects with an idea. This quick way prevents us from making quick judgments. And it saves us even from test stupid ideas like walking meetings. . . because it is silly. . . or maybe not. . . well, at least this is interesting about the idea. . .

And you can read more about ways to overcome negative attitudes to new ideas in our eBook.

Photo “Idea On Monitors Showing Variety Of Thoughts” by Stuart Miles

Gross National Happiness


The real goal in life is happiness and well-being. But a holistic approach towards progress is rarely taken. In 1972, the term  “gross national happiness” (GNH) was coined by Bhutan’s fourth Dargon King, Jigme Singve Wangchuck.  This concept is not easy to define mathematically, yet people may value things that represent vitality and health, meaning, and freedom.  In contrast, economic growth is easier to define mathematically and to measure. But the link between economic growth and happiness is not straightforward.  And the relationship between economic growth and poverty reduction is not simple.

  • How can cities use resources more effectively to create conditions needed for people to feel empowered?
  • How can you measure well-being?
  • What does personal well-being mean?

What are your favourite  Happiness Factors? Below are two videos to help you explore the concept. In the first video, Morten Sondergaard  explores  “What is “Gross National Happiness?”  The second shows Santa Monica’s contribution to the Majors Challenge – to  become the first city in US to measure well-being.

Thinkibility Challenge – enter your favourite  Happiness Factors in the comment box!

Photo: “Girl Jumping In Paddy Field” by sakhorn38

Wishful Thinking

Thinking Patterns
Not all thinking pattern are beneficial such as distorted or negative patterns. But what about Wishful thinking? What we believe is true and what we wish were true can be very different. But how do we separate between belief and desires? And can wishful thinking be useful?

A common assumption is that we are constantly evaluating and planning our actions. But we are creatures of habits. And our thinking is characterised by habits. Our thinking takes place in a setting, to deal with new situations and information we rely upon finding patterns and routines. Thinking patterns refers to a certain way of thinking. In some situations, we may be more prone to negative and destructive thinking patterns such as “something good will never happen to me”.  At other times, when we are engaged in problem solving activities we may be prone to engage in correlative thinking, which is mainly driven by intuition.

A problem is that we do not know how or when to use different thinking frameworks. Shifting between different types of thinking pattern is like changing gear in a car. Gears allow us to use different speed range but one gear is not necessarily superior to another. A low gear means more power, which may be useful when we are driving up a hill. Similarly, when one thinking pattern does not help us to solve a problem, it makes sense to change pattern.

If you are focusing your attention on finding risks and dangers with an idea – metaphorically wearing the Black Hat – wishful thinking is regarded as not appropriate. In contrast, when you are looking for positive aspects – metaphorically wearing the Yellow Hat – wishful thinking is welcomed. It may also be welcome when we are invention things and looking for new ideas. Steve Jobs was known for his wishful thinking. The term Reality Distortion Field was used to described his skill to persuade and charm  others to believe and support his ideas. Regardless of  how loud others shouted that it was impossible, it did not stop Steve Jobs. And in many case, he managed to prove that it was possible indeed.

Exploring Wishful Thinking
Sometimes we like to believe things confirming with our wishes so much we ignore evidence that suggest the contrary. In science, different techniques and methods are used to ensure that we can counteract wishful thinking. An experiment should be carried out in a way that separates what the scientist hopes and wishes to be true from what there is good reason to believe to an accurate description of our world.

Whatever we wish to be true, we can always find evidence that confirms that our wish may be true. It is nice to have our wishes confirmed. When we use wishful thinking, we ignore evidence that may run counter to our idea.  This means that our conclusion may be wrong. Wishful thinking sounds like something we all should avoid and it is tempting to believe that you are not vulnerable to it. Or that certain people are less susceptible. But we all need to look for signs of wishful thinking. We need to search for ways to guard ourselves against dismissing evidence that does not support our wishes.

  • Confirmation bias – we favour information that confirms our existing beliefs
  • Expectation bias – we look only for results that support our theory or model.

Einstein did not like the idea of black holes and he refused to accept the possibility of black holes. He disliked the idea so much that even though other scientist used his theory to show that he was wrong, he still refused to consider the possibility of black holes.  He published a faulty paper supporting his position and he never changed his mind!

Are climate deniers notorious wishful thinkers? Skeptical Science is sceptical about global warming scepticism. The site explores if arguments against global warming is based upon scientific results or if it is wishful thinking.

It is easy to draw the conclusion that wishful thinking is of little value. Yet it is how we explore and what we do with our wishes and beliefs. Working backwards from an idea or suggestion is one way to explore the underlying assumptions.Let us use climate change as an example.

  • Climate change will not lead to disaster.There is no climate change. Work backward and look at issues such as the relationship between higher  CO2 and the idea that there is no climate change. How does that work? Check the logic and look at the evidence.
  • There is climate change but we can deal with it. Work backward  and explore how humans, animals and plants how adapted to new circumstances.
  • Climate change will lead to a disaster (reverse wishful thinking).  What is the worst scenario? Work backwards and ask yourself: “How could it happen? Then examine the logic and look at the evidence.

Wishful thinking is an excellent opportunity to search for things that you value. Ask yourself why do you not want to believe that there is a chance of global warming? Are you scared of what might happen? Do you value your life style too much? Do you believe that adaptations to new conditions are beneficial for humans, animals, and plants?

Identifying your thinking pattern and exploring underlying assumptions is important whether you are using logical, lateral, or critical thinking frameworks. It is also important when you are using wishful thinking.

Photo: “Nature Water1” by Danilo Rizzuti

Challenging Thinking about Exercise – Searching for Positive Benefits

Challenging Thinking

How little exercise do you need to do to get fit? Surprisingly as little as 3 minutes of exercise, a week may improve your health – improve the insulin sensitivity. It has always been assumed that training should consist of for example, 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per day at least 5 days per week . However, the opposite is also true.

High Intensity Training (HIT) challenges the idea that you need to workout for a couple of hours every week. Vigorous bouts of exercise mixed with short breaks in between is not a new idea as such, athletes have used this enhanced form of interval training to strengthening their muscles and improve their fitness. Recently, researchers have looked into the health benefits of using this type of training. And the results have challenged traditional thinking and it looks like it is possible to get more by doing less.

A less extreme form of HIT, where a person does not exercise for long may suit groups that belong to a group where doctors might have concerns about them. High intensity training may be suitable for overweight, less fit, and older people. The method is also suitable for improving muscles and ten one minutes sprints on the exercise bike with a one minute rests in between, three times a week, may achieve similar effect as hours of less intensive training on the exercise bike.

Searching for Positive Aspects

The new ideas is challenging traditional thinking and a search for other groups that may benefit from high intensity training lead to these new insights. Challenging the idea that only certain groups benefit from a specific types of training, included broadening the search for possible positive benefits.from training. In this case, the idea emerged by listening to groups who claim that “traditional exercise regime” does not help them to lose weight.

Spending time broadening the search for plus points in any idea is beneficial since it helps to provide a more rounded view of the idea. It is also vital to consider if the positive features can be better used in other ways. Can the plus points be enhanced and improved? An active search for new potential plus points can significantly improve a product. New ways to incorporate these new plus points could be explored and developed.

Writing a list of advantages highlights the fact that advantages are relative – an advantage is a favourable position over one or more alternatives or opponents. Providing reasons behind why a certain idea has an advantage over another helps to emphasise the underlying positives with the idea. Identifying the group or individuals that may have an advantage if the solution is carried out is also important. We can give an advantage to a group or individual by carrying out a certain idea. For example, the unwanted side effects of an experimental medicine might be used to advantage in the treatment of a different medical condition. Thus, an open approach to how we can search advantages relies on a broadening of the concept advantages.

Different Ways to Approach a Search for Advantages for X

  • Decide what groups to include in the search for advantages and explore what these groups would highlight – children, elderly, people with good sense of smell, visual artists, animals, plants.
  • Compare the idea with another idea, what factors stand out?
  • Choose different things to compare ideas with – some that are similar and others that are completely different.
  • What would happen if the product or solution were used every day? Or everyone used it the whole time?
  • Look at different bits of the idea – it is possible that there are some positive points with parts of the idea.
  • Explore what would happen in the future if the idea were not carried out.
  • Imagine working in a society where the idea has never been implemented and we have to explain it to the people.  What would we say? And what would they say are the positive aspects of the idea?

We recommend that you explore in depth that advantages with an idea before reacting to it. We often react to an idea – looking for negative points – from our current practices, frames, vested interests, established industries, or old paradigms. This prevents us from further developing the idea and testing the idea. In this case, the idea that some groups do not benefit from exercise due to their genetic heritage could be explored from a range of perspectives to support them to a healthy lifestyle. Nevertheless, we provide you with a different view about the benefits of HIT by Adam Richmond from Lace Market Clinic.

Photo: “Walk The Dog” by federico stevanin

Value Engineering

Value Engineering

A common method is to explore values is to use value engineering where we determine the value of goods or services by looking at the ratio between cost and function. The goods or services are examined and the first stages in value engineering are information gathering and analysis. This is a creative method where alternative ways of meeting the requirements are explored.

The evaluation consists of an assessment of how well the alternatives meet the required functions and how great the savings it will be. This method is a successful approach towards determining the best value for money goods or services. In this method, value is defined as the function that satisfies the customers need at the lowest overall cost. Yet value can be defined in several different ways, and this method does not suggest a way to explore other values. For example, elegance and simplicity is rarely valued. Simplicity should be a value we value so highly that we build it into everything.

The Art of Simplicity

Many think the music of Bach is very complicated. Most of the time the music is in fact surprisingly simple when one takes a closer look at his compositions as the video in the attached link will show you. The video is self-explanatory even if you cannot read notes. This music may serve as an inspiration and/or eye-opener.

Impact a single adaption has on the overall.

  • Gradual evolution of a process.
  • The number of inventive principles used.
  • The interaction of multiple seemingly independent elements.
  • The impact of keeping things as simple as possible.

We recommend the book “In Pursuit of Elegance: Why the best Ideas have Something  Missing”  by Matthew E. May and Guy Kawasaki.

A question that often whizz around is what is our value proposition? What value have we added? Finding a method that creates a specific framework that is pliable and can be expanded may be a challenge. You can try to direct your attention to different aspect that may be important to consider when you are searching for values, for example, personal, organisational, or environmental factors. If you generate more ideas, the need to find and explore the values and to make priorities becomes more highlighted. This help you to ensure that the best and most urgent values are maximized every step on the way.

Photo: “Values Definition Button” by Stuart Miles

World Thinkers’ Ideas – Do What You Love

Using the Internet to promote our skills is becoming increasingly more important. New skills and ideas are required and Peter Thiel says that it is vital to let interests and talents help to us find a career that inspires us. Choosing subjects and topics that we are interested in and love, mean that we are motivated to work.

Peter Thiel started the “20 Under 20 Thiel Fellowship” to encourage young entrepreneurs to find ways to fund their own projects. Supporting the next generation of innovators is a keen subject for Peter Thiel, who is one of the founder of PayPal and a current board member of Facebook. Lifelong learning and independent thought is encouraged –  the Thiel Fellowship challenges many traditional ideas regarding what to takes to be an entrepreneur.

Mentors are used to inspire young people and to help them break away from life tracks that interfere with young people’s curiosity and desire to start new projects. Peter Thiel believes that the best way to become an entrepreneur is to learn by doing. The initiative to inspire young people to “stop out of school” may be controversial. Yet the idea is not to stop learning and growing in skills and understanding. Here is a response by a Thiel Fellowship Finalist.

The Thiel Foundation also promotes and support organisations that defend the ideal of freedom. The mission is to defend and promote freedom in all its dimensions –  political, personal, and economic. Today many companies and organisations are striving towards including values and ethical aspects in their daily work.

The term value refers to worth and we often find it easier to measure worth. Yet it is vital to explore social, ethical, or environmental values in our daily work and when we are exploring new ideas and solutions. Values are often described as worries about how we should do things. Consequently, it is easy to ignore ethical aspects. But we can learn to explore value/s in different ways. And keeping worth and ethical aspects separate may not be a fruitful solution. A simple way to explore both dimensions is to  assign numerical values to rank aspects related to worth as well as ethical aspects.This means that it is easier to compare issues related to worth with ethical aspects. It might not be a perfect solution yet it is a beginning.

Photo: “Keyhole And Ladder” by Master isolated images