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How good is your creative thinking?

November 23rd, 2012

The short answer to this question is “way better than you may think” – I’m not sure if that even makes sense – but I’ll bet you’re able to rapidly understand the following sentence even though the letters are jumbled.  yuro bairn is albe to udnertsnad tihs snetnece eevn tghouh olny the frist and lsat ltetres of ecah wrod  are crreoct.

Creativity,we’re told, happens in the subconscious mind but is often constrained by the conscious mind distracting it with too much analysis and judgement and so-called logical thinking. This conscious element of our mental processes enables us to understand the meaning of the previous jumbled sentence and is obviously very useful, in fact it’s necessary for our survival!

Our conscious mind automatically interprets what we see, hear, smell or touch by means of attaching roughly familiar patterns so you’re able to look at the previous sentence and form an accurate interpretation of its meaning particularly once you figure out contextually where it’s going. But your interpretation will only be correct if you can draw on a familiar accurate pattern.  This would not be possible in the case of this sentence if you did not understand English because there would be no reference point for your conscious mind to work from.

What’s really important, however, is that your conscious mind immediately jumps into gear when anything needs to be decided. And therein lies the problem because it immediately draws on your past experiences which are reflected in your belief system in order to take you to a decision. What that means is we have a natural mental tendency to be centered only of what we know rather than what’s possible.

Here are five mental challenges that I invite you to have a go at solving.  Next week I will give you the answers together with several strategies you can use to improve your creative thought process.

Challenge # 1

Add a single line to the following equation to make it correct but you are not allowed to change the equal sign to an inequality.


Challenge #2

Joanna and Jill share exactly the same birthday and birth year. They also have the same parents but they are not twins. How can that be possible?

Challenge #3

A man has married 8 different people in the same town.  All are still alive and he never divorced any of them. Polygamy is unlawful but the man has not broken the law. How is this possible?

Challenge #4

A man walked into an antiques shop and offers to sell a beautiful bronze coin. On one side there is a beautiful image of a Roman Emperor’s head, while the other shows the date as 500 B.C. The dealer instantly knows that he coin does not date back to 500 B.C. Why?

Challenge #5

A man is standing on his driveway with his Creditor to whom he owes a large sum of money. It is a time when failure to pay your debt meant imprisonment until the debt was paid. The creditor being a fair man wanted to marry the Debtor’s beautiful daughter so he proposed a bargain.

The driveway they were standing on was covered by black and white pebbles. The creditor proposed that he put one black one and one white pebble in a small empty soft money pouch he had in his possession. The debtor was then to pick a pebble from the pouch and if it was white the debt would be forgiven. But if he drew the black pebble, he would either pay the debt immediately or go to prison unless he gave his permission for the creditor to marry his daughter.

Believing he had nothing to lose, the debtor agreed to the proposal but when the creditor selected the pebbles and put them in the pouch the debtor noticed that he had intentionally chosen 2 black ones and could not therefore lose the bet! Sensing that if he told the creditor he was a cheat he would end up in jail.

What strategy could he employ that would guarantee that he, the Debtor, won the bet?


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