Life can be a big noisy party with people talking, music playing, glasses clinking, people dancing and the floor shaking.
Twitter can be a big noisy stream with people tweeting hordes of information flowing past you in a 24-7 stream. Facebook can be a big noisy family and friend gathering with people sharing video clips, pictures, links to articles, and playing games like Farmville and Mafia wars. LinkedIn can be a big noisy networking session with people sharing status updates, resumes, making recommendations and connecting with former coworkers.
No matter what it is, you can probably find the noise and distractions. You can find noise in social media. You can find noise in your neighbor’s party. You can find noise in the privacy of your home.
Even with all the noise, it’s possible for you to understand the person sitting across from you. Or one thirty feet away. Or one thirty miles away. Or one thirty thousand miles away.
That’s because our attention is selective–we can tune in certain things and tune out others. We know how to use filters to tune out the static.
Don’t believe me? Take a look around the room where you are sitting right now and find five things that have green in them. Go ahead and do it.
With a green mindset, you’ll find that the green jumps right out at you. Likewise, whenever you learn a new word, you’ll hear it repeatedly throughout the next couple of days. Similarly, when you decide to purchase a new car, you’ll see that same make everywhere.
That’s because people find what they are looking for. If you’re looking for beauty, you’ll find beauty. If you’re looking for the bad in the world, you’ll find it. If you’re looking for the good in others, you’ll find the good. If you’re looking for conspiracies, you’ll find conspiracies.
It’s all a matter of setting your mental channel.
Try the following mental exercise.
Take a look at these four numbers. “One of these things is not like the other. Which of these things just doesn’t belong?”
So which number did you choose? If you choose 1991, congratulations, you chose the right answer. 1991 is the only one that is a palindrome (reads the same forward or backwards).
If you chose 1993 because it is the only one with the number 3, congratulations, you choose the right answer too. If you choose 1993 because it’s the only one that the sum adds up to 22, you got the right answer.
If you choose 9191 because it’s the only one that starts with a nine, pat yourself on the back. You chose the right answer as well.
However if you chose 1919 as the one not like the others because it was the only one with a 1 in the third digit, you are also right.
In other words, they are all right depending upon your point of view. It depends upon your mental channel.
By the time the average American has finished college, he or she has taken more than 2,600 tests, quizzes and exams–many similar to the one you just took–all looking for the right answer.
The challenge is that most of life isn’t this way. Life is ambiguous. There are many right answers–all depending upon what you are looking for. If you think there is only right answer, then you’ll stop looking as soon as you find one.
The practice of looking for the “right answer” can have serious consequences in the way we think about and deal with problems. Nothing is more dangerous than an idea when it’s the only one you have.
For the most 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.
It’s time to start looking for as many right answers as possible and shift our mental thinking.
What do you think? Is it always about finding the right answer? Can the right answer be different for different people? Share your thoughts.