Why you should experiment more
The antidote to tunnel vision
Hey there —
Imagine you’re asked to come up with as many different uses as you can for a paper clip. 📎
If your brain gets hung up on a paper clip’s typical job — holding things together — you might get no more creative than “close an open bag of potato chips” before you run out of brilliant ideas.
On the other hand, if you broaden your perspective beyond what a paper clip is supposed to do, you might start shouting things like “lock pick” or “tiny kabob skewer!” 🍢
This kind of “Alternative Uses Test” was designed as a way of measuring flexible thinking, but it’s a great illustration of how tunnel vision — getting so focused on doing things a certain way that we fail to notice different or better options — can affect our thinking.
Speaker, consultant, and author Gustavo Razzetti describes this as “a seeing gap…caused by observing limitations instead of possibilities” and identifies 3 different types of tunnel vision:
🔭 Anticipation: Being so focused on the future that you stop paying attention to now.
🤏 Narrow Vision: Focusing only on the familiar and missing what’s happening beyond your comfort zone.
🔍 Looking Inside: Spending too much time in introspection and losing an outside sense of self-awareness.
One great antidote to tunnel vision? Experimentation.
Experimentation helps us avoid tunnel vision by encouraging us to try something new, step out of our comfort zone, and look at things from all sides.
Stuck in a creative rut? Experiment! Maybe you’ve narrowed in too much on one medium, topic, or genre. Brainstorm how to combine your usual subject with something new or come at it from a unique angle.
Caught up in negative thoughts, convinced you don’t have the skills for the current job market and that recruiters are throwing your resume right in the trash? Experimentation nudges you to take a step back, consider how your skills might be applied across different industries, and throw those applications out there. (You’ll never know until you try!)
Have a big goal? Experimentation reminds you not to focus so hard on the future that you can only see a single path forward. Chances are there are many different routes to your desired destination. (And things you can do to start living your best life now.)
Whether we’re trying to solve a problem or reach an end goal, we’re all susceptible to tunnel vision.
Instead of doggedly sticking to what you’ve always done or clinging to your original plans (even when they stop working), cultivate a mindset of experimentation to help you think differently.
Not only will this generate new and interesting ideas — it will help open your eyes to the possibilities around you just waiting to be noticed. 💫
Alternative Uses Test
by Dave Birss
Think you could come up with at least a dozen ways to use a paper clip? Try your hand at the Alternative Uses Test! 🤓
Creative expert Dave Birss has created an online version that gives you two minutes to type as many uses for a randomly-generated object as possible. And if you’re into keeping score, there’s also instructions for evaluating your ideas according to their fluency, originality, flexibility, and elaboration.
Answer in Progress
by Sabrina Cruz, Taha Khan, and Melissa Fernandes
We’re not sure we’ve ever related so strongly to the description of a YouTube channel as we have with Answer in Progress’: “Struggling to learn stuff every other week.” 😂
The world is complicated and fascinating and the team behind Answer in Progress is here to take you on a journey from question to answer. And their engaging (and often hilarious) videos remove the stigma of “not knowing stuff” by showing every stumble and success along the way.
From serious discussions, like why America is addicted to cars, to opening a bean restaurant to prove a point…you’re sure to find something that will spark your curiosity.
by Chris Taylor
If titles like The War of Art or The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, have been on your TBR list for forever…Actionable Books could be your next favorite read.
The site provides short, engaging summaries of both these books — and over 1100 more! — for free. Each summary consists of a brief overview of the book, one key message and two ways you can easily integrate that message into your life in 5 minutes or less. 👊
(And even if you’re a stickler for reading the whole book, the site is a great way to test out popular titles before committing your time and money.)
Keep on going, and the chances are that you will stumble on something, perhaps when you are least expecting it. I never heard of anyone ever stumbling on something sitting down.
Written by Ashley Martin
Edited by Matt D'Avella