The Right Answer
“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” -Scott Adams
In the ten year period between kindergarten and high school not only had we learned how to find the right answer, we had also lost the ability to look for more than one right answer. WE had learned how to be specific, but we had lost much of our imaginative power. An elementary school teacher told me the following story about a colleague who had given her first graders a coloring assignment:
The instructions said: "On this sheet of paper, you will find an outline of a house, trees, flowers, clouds, and sky. Please color each with the appropriate colors."
One of the students, Patty, put a lot of work into her drawing. When she got it back, she was surprised to find a big black "X" on it. She asked the teacher for an explanation. "I gave you an 'X' because you didn't follow the instructions. Grass is green not gray. The sky should be blue, not yellow as you have drawn it. Why didn't you use the normal colors, Patty?" Patty answered, "Because that's how it looks to me when I get up early to watch the sunrise." The teacher had assumed that there was only one right answer. The practice of looking for the "one right answer" can have serious consequences in the way we think about and deal with problems. Most people don't like problems, and when they encounter them, they usually react by taking the first way out they can find - even if they solve the wrong problem. I can't overstate the danger in this. If you have only one idea, you have only one course of action open to you, and this is quite risky in a world where flexibility is a requirement for survival. An idea is like a musical note. In the same way that a musical note can only be understood in relation to other notes (either as a part of a melody or a chord), an idea is best understood in the context of other ideas. If you have only one idea, you don't have anything to compare it to. You don't know its strengths and weaknesses. I believe that the French philosopher Emile Chartier hit the nail squarely on the head when he said:
Nothing is more dangerous than an idea when it is the only one we have.
For more effective thinking, we need different points of view. Otherwise, we'll get stuck looking at the same things and miss seeing things outside our focus.
Expect the Unexpected or You Won’t Find It
-Roger Von Oech
The Left Jab
“To me, boxing is like a ballet, except there's no music, no choreography and the dancers hit each other.” -Jack Handy Deep Thoughts
Sparks of creativity often flow from new knowledge. Frequently it's information about things that are completely new to you. Sometimes, it's new facts about familiar things. And sometimes it's information about things that you didn't know you didn't know. This last category, usually filled with items that are silly and fanciful, can provide a platform for your imagination to jump from.
So here I present the: "Things you didn't know you didn't know" section (or the alternately titled: "Trivia to win bar bets" section).
What’s That Sniffing Noise Boxers Make When Throwing Punches?
Listen carefully to any boxing match, or to any boxer shadow- boxing, and you will hear a sniffing sound every time a punch is thrown. This sound is known to many in the boxing trade as the snort." A "snort" is nothing more than an exhalation of breath. Proper breathing technique is an integral part of most sports, and many boxers are taught to exhale (usually, through their nose) every time they throw a punch. Scoop Gallello, president of the International Veteran Boxers Association, said that when a boxer snorts while delivering a punch, "he feels he is delivering it with more power." Gallello adds: "Whether this actually gives the deliverer of the punch added strength may be questionable." Robert W. Lee, president and commissioner of the International Boxing Federation, remarked that the snort gives a boxer "the ability to force all of his force and yet not expend every bit of energy when throwing the punch. I am not sure whether or not it works, but those who know much more about it than I do continue to use the method and I would tend to think it has some merit." Donald F. Hull, Jr., executive director of the International Amateur Boxing Association, the governing federation for worldwide amateur and Olympic boxing, noted that "While exhaling is important in the execution of powerful and aerobic movements, it is not as crucial in the execution of a boxing punch, but the principle is the same."
But why couldn't any of the boxing experts explain why, or if, snorting really helps a boxer? Ira Becker, the doyen of New York's fabled Gleason's Gymnasium, proved to have very strong opinions on the subject of snorting: "When the fighter snorts, he is merely exhaling. It is a foolish action since he throws off a minimum of carbon dioxide and some vital oxygen. It is far wiser to inhale and let the lungs do [their] own bidding by getting rid of the CO2 and retaining oxygen." The training of boxing, more than most sports, tends to be ruled by tradition rather than by scientific research. While most aspiring boxers continue to be taught to snort, there is obviously little agreement about whether snorting actually conserves or expends energy.
Life’s Imponderables. The Answers to Civilization’s Most Perplexing Questions.