Flexing Your Cognitive Muscle

I love the concept of “Cognitive Flexibility.” The notion of being able to switch between thoughts… and sometimes doing so simultaneously. In order to maintain our sanity we will work a skill or process to mastery so we can save time and effort. After all, why reinvent the wheel? This is the practical thing to do. The downside? While we make personal progress, we’ve only gained the knowledge others have born. Where does that knowledge of process come from? What trial and error (or breakthrough) needed to take place in order for us to take that step? Breakthroughs in thought are such a big deal that our Federal government has an office (the Patent Office) dedicated to protecting the creator(s) of such processes.

In the continued reading of my new favorite book “The Geography of a Genius,” the author discusses the fact that immigrants are more likely to achieve Genius status than natives. He believes the reason for this is Cognitive Flexibility or as he describes it, the ability to see the world around us with fresh eyes. This makes so much sense to me. When you go through life enveloped in the same environment your goals mimic those within the parameters of your peers and only that with which you know. By inertia you follow the same path to school or work others have paved before you. Moreover, the expectations, future and vision becomes predictable. All the great thinkers of our history gained an outsiders eye. We call them Visionaries because they are able to see things nobody else can see. For this type of vision to take place, they must be willing to accept the possibility of an alternative reality–that requires Cognitive Flexibility.

Ok… so the challenge for this week is to flex your cognitive muscle. Each day choose to look through your personal lens with fresh eyes. Look at your spouse, your co-worker, your family member with fresh eyes. What do you see? At work, look at the challenges you face with the perspective of an outsider seeing this challenge for the very first time. How do these new lenses morph a totally different picture? You might realize an environment or situation you thought was in focus suddenly becomes clear. This corrected vision becomes empowering. Pay attention to what gets left behind when you look at the particular situation with fresh eyes. And most of all, take moments to see the grace and beauty that is in every seemingly insignificant moment. Your world will come alive and become much more colorful and magical. Here’s to a spectacolorful week of wonder and discovery.

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