On Space Aliens and Perspective

Imagine you are heads-down, dealing with a major project, deadline, or problem. You are slogging through the muck but you just can’t seem to break free from traditional thinking. You keep working harder and harder but fail to snag the results you seek.

Then, in a big burst of smoke, an alien appears from the planet Imagina of the galaxy Surge 24. His green antennae spin with thought, his yellow eyes roll back in his head, his body starts to shake, and then BAM…. He gives you that breakthrough idea you’ve been dying for.

How’d he do that? It could be that his three brains just have more firepower than yours. Or, it could simply be that he’s looking at the problem from a different perspective.

One of the most powerful techniques I discovered when doing the research for my book, Disciplined Dreaming, is deliberately shifting perspective in order to summon creativity. The human brain has an incredible ability to project into a different circumstance and then function as if it were that new situation.

In other words, the next time you are struggling for that breakthrough idea, pretend you are an alien from the future. How would that alien analyze the problem without the same context that you have? What would the alien’s biases do to his thought-process? Since he doesn’t understand our earthly limitations, fears, and social pressures, what solutions would he recommend?

When you look at a challenge through a different lens, two things happen. First, all your fear and doubt melt away since you stop worrying about how your idea will make you look to others. Second, the fresh perspective yields an abundance of ideas that were previously unconsidered since you are approaching the situation from a different vantage point.

Of course, there’s no need to stop with intergalactic amigos. Try approaching your next challenge as a detective from 16th century London. Or a heroin-drenched jazz musician from the early 50’s. Or your seven-year-old nephew. Or the warden of a maximum-security prison. Or Kim Kardashian. Or Darth Vader. Or the Octomom.

How would they approach the challenge? What solutions might they imagine from their own context? How would they think about things looking through a different lens?

The next time you hit a roadblock or need a B12 injection of creativity, try shifting your perspective and imagine how someone else would solve it. Whether you choose to be an alien, Paul McCartney, or Santa Claus, a fresh view on your work can really shake things up.