Learn how to expand the possibilities. Source information outside of your team. Develop and prioritize curiosity.
- Albert Einstein allegedly said that the difference between him and a regular person is when a regular person found a needle in a haystack, they'd stop looking. Whereas Einstein would keep looking until he found all of the needles in the haystack. And on the face of it, this sounds like the actions of a crazy person. But the difference between crazy and genius is often smaller than we think. Einstein knew that the more he was curious about, the more he explored, the more potential he had to find breakthrough solutions to problems.
And it wasn't any accident that Einstein worked in a patent office where he had to review different designs for all sorts of different kinds of things. And he incorporated all of that diversity of knowledge into his thinking process. It's the same thing in teamwork, where when we're stuck or a group of us can't see further or get further, that what we need often is to expand the possibilities of what we're looking at. And so, there's great research that shows that we have a very practical excuse to explore things, to consider things that seem crazy.
And there's two reasons for this. One is, sometimes the things that seem crazy actually are brilliant. No one's seen them or considered them. Einstein was crazy to think or sounded crazy to think that maybe gravity wasn't true, and exploring that, he found a higher principle right, relativity. The second thing though is often bad ideas can actually help us to find good ideas. There's something that's really interesting, lots and lots of examples in history where this has been the case. But if you think about it, between where you are and the ideas that you think are normal and acceptable that are sort of your confined area, where you're exploring, and the really crazy idea or the bad idea is a lot of intellectual territory to be explored, and often in that territory is the breakthrough solution that everyone then copies you because you've found something that works better than everything else.
So, there's a very practical excuse to consider ideas or to include people who are far-out from where you think you should be, and to actually not dismiss any idea as crazy. So I think that from a practical standpoint, every individual ought to give themself the excuse or the leeway to spend some percentage of their time exploring things or being curious about things that have nothing to do with your work. Making friends with people who are not working on the things you're working on.
I like to go on Wikipedia and learn about wormholes and things that have nothing to do with my work. This helps us to find that territory between what we're working on and what potentially is out there, but it also help us to draw analogies that we can bring in to our work. If you think about it, a group of people that all are sort of fixed in the lane of whatever industry or project they're working on, versus a group of people that are exploring other things, that group of people that's exploring other things has more potential than that group that's fixed. Sometimes we'll ask, how do we know when an idea is too crazy or too wild to chase down? And to that I say, that's the wrong question.
Actually, everything is worth considering and worth exploring 'cause you never know either whether that idea will be actually useful, or whether just looking in that direction will point you towards something that no one has thought of.