I recently received an email from a family member with a math puzzle that had me completely stumped. We’re talking, had me googley-eyed, and extremely frustrated. The worst part about it was that the math problem was from an admissions test from a Hong Kong elementary school.
I started going through my multiplication tables in my head, but nothing made sense. Then I noticed it said I was supposed to answer within 20 seconds. Yeah right.
After a couple minutes of literally staring at Chinese, I gave up. I was anticipating that this might possibly be a joke and one of those brainteasers that really has no solution. For a brief moment I felt like I had won. I only wasted a couple minutes on this joke.
I was wrong.
Before I go any further, it’s your time to shine. Here’s the Hong Kong elementary math problem:
Your 20 seconds starts now…
What parking spot # is the car parked in?
Okay, your 20 seconds is up. Did you figure it out? Let us know in the comments if you did. Don’t sweat if you didn’t, simply join the club. The answer is below, for those who joined the club 🙂
Within a half a second of seeing the answer, I felt silly for not allowing my brain to come up with the solution. Somehow I constructed cement walls that limited my brain’s capacity to think of other possibilities.
How can we remove these barriers and open up an on-going stream of great thoughts and ideas?
Here are some Techniques to Help You Think Outside the Box
White Board Throw-up Session
- Recently we had a company retreat where we set a time limit, gave everyone a marker, labeled categories of interest and franticly began listing any ideas or suggestions underneath each category before the time ran out. Within a short period of time we had a huge white board completely filled up with awesome ideas.
Alphabetize on Steroids
- This is an exercise you can do all on your own. Find a word of at least six characters. Next, stop looking at the word and simply picture it in your mind. Now rearrange the letters in alphabetical order. Take the word “hybrid” for example. In your mind you would rearrange the letters to say “bdhiry.” This stimulates your brain by forcing you to look at a word and completely rearrange the entire thing in your mind. Do this a few times a week and slowly find bigger words to use.
Exercise the Body
- When you put your body through a workout, or set off on a good run, it stimulates your whole body. Your brain produces a chemical called serotonin, which is the chemical form of happiness. This is what gives you that “runners high” feeling of being able to take on the world and solve everyone’s problems.
Think Outside the Box Quotes
A great way to get excited about thinking outside the box is to read what others have said about it in the past. There are some goodies here.
What we think, we become.
Gautama Buddha – Tweet this quote
The shepherd always tries to persuade the sheep
that their interests and his own are the same.
Stendhal , pen name of Marie-Henri Beyle – Tweet this quote
Man can alter his life by altering his thinking.
William James – Tweet this quote
A great many people think they are thinking
when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.
William James – Tweet this quote
It is well for people who think,
to change their minds occasionally
in order to keep them clean.
Luther Burbank – Tweet this quote
The eye sees only
what the mind is prepared to comprehend.
Henri-Louis Bergson – Tweet this quote
Thinking isn’t agreeing or disagreeing. That’s voting.
Robert Lee Frost – Tweet this quote
If everyone is thinking alike,
then somebody isn’t thinking.
George Smith Patton, Jr. – Tweet this quote
The trouble with most people is
that they think with their hopes or fears or wishes
rather than with their minds.
William James Durant – Tweet this quote
Time given to thought is the greatest time saver of all.
Norman Cousins – Tweet this quote
The only place where your dream becomes impossible
is in your own thinking.
Robert Harold Schuller – Tweet this quote
Too often we give children answers to remember
rather than problems to solve.
Roger Lewin – Tweet this quote
Overall, this has been a positive experience. I mean, I went as far as blogging about it. Here’s to all of us putting forth the effort to be better at thinking outside the box!
Simply flip the image upside down.