Step Back, Make Progress

There are so many new-fangled ways to think about our world, all kinds of theories about how to innovate, inforgraphics & how-to manuals for success… people have taken ideas & expounded, extrapolated, & extended their applications to fit the times for as long as humans have been seeking improvement.

But, sometimes, to see how to move forward, it helps to step back.

In fact, there’s one Aristotelian, Genius Problem-Solving Method that I splashed around in for a long time, but has recently become a driving force of all my creativity and solution-finding. It’s a notion similar to Da Vinci’s idea that…

“All great Acts of Genius began with the same consideration:
Do not be constrained by your present reality.”

So simple. So powerful.

In order to do something new, you’ve gotta try something new. Like, completely new.

Sometimes, I’ve learned, that “something new” requires going back on the trail, finding the junction where things went awry, and starting down a different path. Sometimes, progress begins–kind of like looking to ancient wisdom–with backward motion.

I’m talking about stepping back, removing ourselves from situations, rising up to see things from above like it’s all a board game. From that viewpoint, the bigger picture becomes more clear & I can see better moves. Imagine how easy a hedge maze would be if you could solve it from above, like a kid’s puzzle in an activity book, rather than being smack-dab in the middle of it.

From a macro view, I’ve been able to identify larger principles, the things that become clouded by semantics, in many different fields. Looking at parts of a whole, not to judge but to understand, allows me to see how those things operate individually AND together. That kind of view is invaluable.

It also reminds and encourages me to see things as they are, similar to the concept of First Principle Thinking.

A First Principle is a basic, essential, foundational truth that is “known by nature.” It is not an assumption or deduction based on another theory or supposition. A key element of First Principle thinking is that just because something is “known by nature” or true in the universe does not mean it has ever been articulated and described by humans.

Everything exists. It’s just up to us to explore, discover, & develop our discoveries.

E=MC² always existed, but it didn’t become known until Einstein discovered it. Some future physicist may discover something true to the universe that renders E=MC² obsolete.

Famous sculptures. When I wrote those two words, my mind immediately went to Michelangelo’s David.

That beautifuly- crafted sculpture didn’t happen by accident. It had to be taken out of a massive piece of marble– Michelangelo, it is said, believed that his creations were already, inherently, divinely, contained in the rock, and he was simply chiseling away the excess to bring it to life.

He saw what others didn’t.

Life is like a giant slab of marble. Every possibility is contained within it & we can carve out, create, bring to life any number of innovations.

It may seem that First Principle thinking requires more mental work, when it simply requires a different type of thinking

By definition, true innovation can only occur if we start with the First Principle. When we want to make the leap from “what is” to what is possible, we can’t get to what doesn’t exist by creating an iteration of what already exists.

Applied to interpersonal relations & the core of many of our social issues, getting to core principles allows us to become more open to other people’s perspectives and able to see value in ideas and views previously unentertained.

Instead of being caught up in someone else’s different views, we could look at them to learn, to hone certain notions or understanding of the world.

If we all agreed on some larger principle, to seek good together, but in the ways we do it as individuals, I can only imagine what things would come to life…