Sunday, April 14, 2013

Patterns and Connections

It's funny how the brain works. Some people are good with logic and math. They approach problems methodically. They use reason, and work through complex problems until they find the answers.
For whatever reason, my brain doesn't work like that. My mind somehow recognize patterns in data. Whether the data is a string of random numbers, jumbled letters, or music. 
After I was drafted, I went through a battery of tests in basic training in the early 1970s. These tests were unlike any I'd ever seen. Since I didn't have a point of reference, I had no clue how I'd done.
But at the end of basic, they called me into an office and asked me if I'd like to go to Officers Candidate School. 
It sounded like a good idea until I asked if I'd have to stay longer than my regular 2-year commitment which was standard for a draftee. 
They said I would have to stay in a minimum of three years, so I declined. 
Most of the folks in basic with me were from Alabama and Mississippi, and they went to artillery or infantry school. They sent me to a six-month radio school to learn electronics.
When I got out of the Army, I got a chance to work for the phone company. They gave me a battery of test much like the ones I'd taken in basic training.
The next day my phone rang, this time to offer me a job. I wasn't sure how it all worked, but I'd been unemployed for a year, so I was grateful to find meaningful work. It seems that the ability to see patterns, and somehow connect unrelated things was valuable, even if I had no idea why.
I said all that to say this: I'm listening to Where Good Ideas Come From, which is a book that talks about some of the great ideas that people stumbled across throughout history.
Many of the ideas came from people who somehow connected things from unrelated fields. An example might be a heart doctor that befriends a plumber, and during a conversation about field lines and plumbing issues, the heart doctor realizes that toilet plumbing and body plumbing follow many of the same principals.
I guess where I'm heading is that I often hear people say they aren't creative, or they aren't smart. But the truth is, there are many ways to measure intelligence that often don't show up on intelligence tests.
I say, lets not sell ourselves short. 


  1. I hear ya'buddy, if I were to sell myself short, I would be a midget, given that I am only 5'3" to begin with. Just saying ....

  2. I agree that we should never sell ourselves short... we are all creative in our own way :)

  3. Well I sort of know I'm useless with numbers so I don't even bother anymore and thank heavens for the calculator! So I concentrate on what I know I am passable with and that's the use of words! Take care

  4. I agree. There are many kinds of intelligence. IQ tests just don't test them all!

  5. You are absolutely correct !!!

  6. I do not see patterns. I tend to make observations about people or situations that no one else notices.


  7. Thinking outside the box often means dismantling the box and seeing how it was made.

  8. My brother struggled through school. After graduating (barely) he went to work for the phone co. He got drafted and decided to join the Marines and off to Vietnam he went. When he came home (thankfully!)he went back to Ma Bell and then realized, after he worked there for a few years, he could have his own company installing phone and computer systems...He did very well and I would venture to say, better than some of the "smarter" folks he went to school with. You just never know where life will lead you.

  9. ESP !!! You see things others don't. Great article.

  10. I upgraded my CV today and realised, in that area, I had been selling myself short! We interrelate daily. You never know who you may meet or what opportunities will come your way.

  11. Funny how we sell ourselves short all the time. I remember years ago when my daughter wanted to apply for a sales associate position at Ralph Lauren. All I saw was a little surfer girl who didn't seem like the Ralph Lauren type. Luckily I didn't try to talk her out of it. During the time she was there she was one of the best associates they had. She earned a lot of college money with that job.

  12. Yes, you are right. I am surprised by what people overlook. The problem starts with the school systems. They separate everything into "subjects", and this is silly because everything is connected. For example, we can learn history and geography by reading literature. We can trigger a motivation to learn history and geography if we become interested in a certain novel. This is just a trivial example. Everything is integrated in the same reality, but school systems seem to believe that they belong to "different subjects".

  13. And then there are those, like one of my grandsons, who suffered from test anxiety. I just kept reminding him that life was so much more than school. He found his niche.


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