"Ultimate problems"--challenging problems that have no solution--can also be used to accelerate creative output. With children or friends or colleagues, try spending 15 minutes a week solving one of these:
o You have 24 hours in which to bring about world peace. How do you do it?
o You have one year in which to clean up all of the pollution on earth and make sure that people never pollute the planet again. What's your plan?
o Aging is a real drag. Eliminate it.
You shouldn't expect to find a real solution, but you'll certainly stimulate a lot of interesting new ideas. This is an example of using a "controlled failure system"--a structured challenge that makes people feel reasonably safe to stimulate new ideas without causing those annoying myocardial infarctions.
Do we really want to place ourselves in situations in which we know we're going to feel frustrated and confused? Emphatically, yes! If you're feeling frustrated, you're in the company of the greatest poets, composers, and inventors of all time, and, more likely than not, you're on the verge of a new idea. Failure is not something to fear; properly managed, it's a great wellspring of creativity.
Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst (sm)
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