Sometimes we have difficulty starting. We get stalled out and we can’t move forward.
In “Get Unstuck by Going Oblique”, a chapter in Drive, Pink suggests the purchase of a re-starter kit, a pack of 100 Oblique Cards (from Great Britain, that are physical, that ship in 3-14 days). I haven’t purchased them. Three hours after I came to the computer to try and create my own, however, I am finally getting around to it.
(Some examples: What would your closest friend do? Your mistake was a hidden intention. What is the simplest solution? Repetition is a form of change. Don’t avoid what is easy.)
From that list of five, I would move on to:
How would my spouse see it? (Very clear thinking, my spouse.)
What would my father do? (Very analytical.)
What would my mother do? (Very relational.)
How would my BIL handle it? (Very charismatic.)
If I knew exactly what to do, what would I be doing?
What’s the smallest step toward success I can take right now?
Change is as good as a rest.
Crazy = Doing the same thing again and expecting different results. So, what is something that seems silly, but wouldn’t be crazy, to do?
Given an extra hour today, how would I handle it?
If I wanted to finish quickly, what would I do?
Think Goldilocks. Is it too hot? How can I cool it?
Think Goldilocks. Is it too cold? How can I heat it up?
Think Goldilocks. What would make it just right?
What would my brightest student this semester suggest?
What would last semester’s brightest student suggest?
What would next semester’s brightest student suggest? (Creative thinking. Not crazy.)
If my toes were cold, but my head was not, what would be a course of action to take?
If I were reading about this in a Weber novel, after the ten-page description of the properties of the ship she is sitting in, what would the hero do?
If it were a fantasy novel, what would I do?
If this were happening on Liad, what would be the correct action?
Under another melanti’ (see question above), what would be the correct action?
Choose three melanti’ and answer the above question for them as well.
Decide which melanti’ appeals the most. Do it.
Walk outside one door and in through another. Now what should you do?
Pretend the issue is an embarrassment. How could you best avoid it?
If this were a riddle, how would it be expressed?
If the world ends tomorrow, how important is this project? If it is still important, do whatever needs to be done.
Admit it is a stupid thing to be doing, but since it needs to be done, use it to prove how creative and involved you are.
Write down five things that will NOT fix the situation. Don’t do any of those.
What is the next big thing? Break that into the smallest pieces possible. Race yourself to see how many you can get done. Keep score.
Practice deliberative practice.
If it is worth doing, it is worth doing poorly.
If it is worth doing, it is worth doing well.
Imagine you are finished. How did you get it all done?
If this were a game of 51-card solitaire, how close would you be to winning?
How is this like an onion?
How is it like a snake?
If you could change one thing you did yesterday, what would you do differently? Do that thing today.
When you go to sleep tonight, what is the best dream you could have about this?
List seven words that start with an s that relate to the next step.
List seven words that start with an n that relate to the step you just finished.
List seven words that have a long vowel that would make this work even better.
Heads you win, tails you lose. The coin toss gives you heads. Now what?
In two out of three, you win the first two. Now what?
If you were playing yourself at rock-paper-scissors, how could you win?
What if they are the droids you are looking for?
How much will it hurt? Would it be worth it to not have to deal with it later?
If it were a photograph from nature, what would it be? Why?
If it were a photograph of a famous work of art, which would it be? Why?
How many people will it take to change this light bulb? What kinds? Why?
As fast as you can, list twelve things that you can do within a month to improve this.
If you could only work on this for one hour a month, what would you work on this month?
If your boss were here, what would the boss suggest?
If the last boss were here, what would that boss suggest?
Imagine the advice from two opposing management styles. Which is more useful? Use it.
Close your eyes and point at a book on the shelf. How is this like that book?
Go to a common website (like your company’s) and count eight lines down. Put whatever word is fourth on that line into Google Images. Count down another eight lines of images. Look at the fourth one. Now what?
If you were the perfect person to do this, what would be getting done right now? How can you do it?
If this were the most important thing you would ever do, what would be your next step?
For this to contribute the most good to the world, what would be the next step?
If you were teaching someone how to do this, what would you recommend they do now?
What part of house cleaning does this most resemble? What housekeeping tool would make the most difference?
If the issue were a yard gnome, what would it look like?
If the issue were a flower, what would it smell like?
If the issue were a color, what shade would it be?
If the issue were a sandwich, what condiments would be on it?
If the issue were a dessert, would you use a spoon or a fork to eat it?
If the issue were a movie, which one would it be?
If the issue were a movie, who would have the starring role?
If the issue were a type of music, what song would be playing right now?
If the issue were a car, how much gas would it need?
Sit in the chair with your feet planted firmly on the ground. Sitting up straight, look up at the ceiling. How many flying saucers would fit in that square?
If the issue were a surgery, what hospital would you want it done at?
If the issue were a tattoo, where would it be on your sister?
If the issue were a house, what would its street address be?
If the issue were a pair of shoes, would they be heels or flats? What color? designer?
If the issue were a store, what would you want to buy there?
When you get through with today, what thing that you haven’t done yet will give you the greatest feeling of satisfaction?
How can you make this all about you instead of all about the work?
Imagine it is a colleague. What would you tell it needs to be done next?
If you had 100 legos to help with this project, what color would they be?
What city or town that you have lived in is this most like? Why?
What geometric shape is most related to the correct answer?
Be wise today; ’tis madness to defer. (Edward Young)
Which of your classes in college does this most remind you of?
Which of the teachers you have had in your life does this most remind you of?
If someone were giving you this as a gift, what would you say?
If you want to make an easy job seem mighty hard, just keep putting off doing it. (Olin Miller)
Taking the bricks thrown at you, what foundation can you lay?
Defeat is not the worst of failures. Not to have tried is true failure.
A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for? (Robert Browning)
Flaming enthusiasm, in this situation, would look like what? Let me see it.
The key to failure is trying to please everybody. (Bill Cosby)
I’ve failed over and over again in my life and that’s why I succeed. (Michael Jordan)
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no sense in being a damn fool about it. (WC Fields)
If you quit now, what have you gained?
If you quit now, what have you lost?
If you don’t quit now, when will you quit?
Most people give up just when they are about to achieve success.
Be ready for the next opportunity.
How can you move from this failure to success?
How would having energy and drive turn this around?
Success is shy. It won’t come out while you are watching. (Tennessee Williams)
Fall down nine times. Get up ten.
What would be a misstep in the right direction?
“Each week we celebrate a woman who makes us proud.” What would that woman do with this?
There is no such thing as spontaneous combustion. How can you start the fire?
How would honor season this?
Success has a thousand fathers. Name two.
How can you try again in a different way?
How can this add value?
How can you add value to this?
What value can be added?
Solitude is the place of purification. (Martin Buber) Now that you are pure…
Happiness sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open. Which door would that be?
Take off your shoes. Shake them out. “It isn’t the mountain ahead that wears you out. It’s the grain of sand in your shoe.”
Be faithful in small things.
Where is the path? Avoid that. Where can you go to make a new trail?
Sometimes the heart sees what is invisible to the eye.
Do exactly what you would do if you felt most secure.
One sees great things from the valley; one sees small things from the peaks. (GK Chesterton)
According to Ovid, a horse never runs so fast as when he has other horses to outpace. What horses are running in this race?
Not all who wander are lost. (JRR Tolkien)
It looks like the future is really bright. What makes it that way?
I may climb perhaps, to no great heights, but I will climb alone. (Cyrano de Bergerac)
In any field, find the strangest thing and then explore it.
A mistake is simply another way of doing things.
Begin in delight and end in wisdom.
Reflection. Imitation. Experience. Pick one.
What counsel could best be woven into real life? What thread would it look like on the loom?
It’s not a nail, because you don’t have a hammer.
The music is nothing if the audience is deaf.
Would you go down into the pit after the lion on a snowy day?
Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. (George S. Patton)
Nine-tenths of wisdom is being wise in time. (Theodore Roosevelt)
Obstacles are the frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal. (Henry Ford)
People don’t notice if it’s winter or summer when they are happy. (Anton Chekov)
What should you overlook?
You can’t sweep other people off their feet, if you can’t be swept off your own. (Clarence Day)
Trial and error. That’s the formula.
Exhaust the experience.
Imagine you are drawing without an eraser.
How could you scratch the surface?
You must have faith.
Bad times have scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would never miss. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
Every great advance has issued from a new audacity. (John Dewey) Be audacious.
Be the curious man looking through the keyhole.
Be open to experience, but begin with romance. (from Ray Bradbury)
How is this odd? funny? unique? unusual? unexpected?
Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing. (Werner von Braum)
What foothold could this give in living chaos?
Be an impresario.
The material is ready. The first world was made from chaos, too.
Believe six impossible things before breakfast.
Discard a pet theory. NOW.
Nothing in the universe can travel at the speed of light, they say, forgetful of the shadow’s speed. (Howard Nemerov)
A rock pile, with a dream, becomes a cathedral.
Imagine what you would do, if you did all you could do.
Gratify your curiosity.
Nonsense wakes up the brain cells. Tell one crazy story or two made-up limericks about limes.
Laugh at life’s realities.
God dared to imagine everything.
Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think if only you try! (Dr. Seuss)
Wouldn’t it be interesting if?
What is the prevailing form of chaos?
A thing of beauty is a joy forever. (John Keats)
If there were a secret to this, what would it be?
The thing to do is to move on.
It is better to travel well than to arrive. (Buddha)
If you were Gulliver, which land would this be?
It is an adventure. Make it a bold one.
Sometimes the answer comes as a lump in the throat.
If this were a game, whose turn would it be?
If you cannot be a poet, be the poem. (David Carradine)
How can you ask this shadow to dance?
At its most distilled, at its essence, what is it?
Create imaginary gardens with real toads. (from Marianne Moore)
Throw a rose petal in the Grand Canyon and wait for its echo.
How is this the moment of change?
Be a great audience.
A child of five would understand this. Someone fetch me a child of five. (Groucho Marx)
Any kid will run an errand for you, if you ask at bedtime. (Red Skelton)
Go for controlled fantasy.
If it were a burning house, what would be the most important thing to rescue?
There. 186 obliques.