You can't even help it; as soon as the warm red light of consciousness creeps in behind your eyelids, you're already thinking about the mega-problem you have to solve today, and how much you'd rather do anything else. You hit snooze three times, wondering which limb you'd be willing to sacrifice just to stay in this warm bed an hour longer.
When the alarm sounds the fourth time you haul yourself up and stumble over to your desk, where you dutifully throw all your top-of-the-morning creativity into solving the day's problem.
Thirty minutes and five pages later, however, you're not any closer to finding that solution, and NOW you're behind schedule. Now, you're going to have to drink the terrible office coffee, because that's just what people drink on days that are doomed from the start.
And with that, a story appears.
And this story promptly turns around to signal its relatives, who then dutifully arise one after the other to start tugging on the sleeves of your consciousness:
I'll never get to the bottom of this.
Even if I do fix this, something else will pop up in its place.
Why can't I ever get it right the first time?
What's wrong with me that I can't figure this out?
Why is it so hard for me, and so EASY for everyone else?
I'm going to be stuck here forever.
I'm a total failure at business and in life.
I'm probably going to die alone.
And so the self-defeating story spiral begins.
Predictably, the rest of the day is consumed by thoughts of your problem. Brushing your teeth, you think of your problem. On your commute, you think of your problem. (You might briefly set your problem aside when your colleague appears to explain in excruciating detail the flow charts in the report she prepared; but the moment the door closes behind her, you return to stewing in thoughts of your problem.)
Have you ever had a day like this?
Here's the thing: When we're trying SO HARD to solve the problem, the problem becomes all we can see. We develop tunnel vision; we see only the glaring not-rightness of it; the time and money already spent; the logistical nightmare and crisis of faith that would surely follow if we had to start over again from scratch.
And yet, what we DON'T see when we focus exclusively on the problem is everything ELSE in the peripheral possibility-scape SURROUNDING the problem -- which tends to be where all the novel solutions are hiding out in the tall grasses, waiting to be recognized.
What I'd like to offer you today is a simple and reliable way to combat this kind of tunnel vision, and bring some light into your creative problem-solving process.
The idea, gifted to us by Tony Robbins, is that too often we jump right into thinking and strategizing while in a negative state -- when we're feeling just a bit cranky and dark -- which makes us much more likely to develop the kind of stubborn problem-focus that generates self-defeating stories, which in turn prevent us from seeing the solutions that exist just beyond our relentless focus on the problem.
Instead, before jumping into strategy, Tony suggests first "priming" your physical STATE, which might just shift your biochemistry enough to help your brain generate empowering STORIES, which, in turn, can enable you to see SOLUTIONS rather than dead ends.
In other words: State > Story > Strategy, and not the other way round.
So the next time you find yourself grappling with a particularly sticky problem, ask yourself: is this really a problem I need to THINK my way out of? Or is it possible that my biochemistry needs a boost?
Then, pick one from this short list of possible state-priming techniques: