Unrelated Tasks Often Further Thought Development

My last post focused on Thinking Outside of the Box. Fred, a frequent and insightful commenter on my blog made mention of  how Sherlock Homes often performed unrelated tasks to further his thinking.

We can take a good clue from Sherlock Holmes, Sir Conan Doyle’s famous sleuth, in the novel Sign of the Four. When confronting a seeming insurmountable and perplexing conundrum of this case, Mr Holmes attacked the problem by doing something totally unrelated, namely performing chemistry experiments into the wee hours of the morning. It was only then that he was able to “think outside the box”, and the solution to his vexing problem appeared to him. Sometimes we need to use a skillful will rather than a strong will to think creatively.

Many thanks to Fred for bringing this concept to our attention.

1 Comment

Filed under Creativity, Knowledge, Productivity, Techniques, Thinking, Time

One response to “Unrelated Tasks Often Further Thought Development

  1. Fred

    Thanks to Terry for bringing attention to this insight from Sherlock Holmes on how to “think outside the box”.

    Another insight from Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes is that opposite personality types need each other for long-term, sustained, stable, everyday living arrangements so that creative, out-of-the-box thinking can have a firm foundation to flourish. Having a mate or living companion who is completely opposite from us greatly contributes to a healthy, balanced perspective toward ourselves and life. As all Sherlock Holmes’ fans realize, Dr Watson – the roommate of Holmes – was in many ways the exact opposite of Sherlock Holmes in personality and temperament. Where Holmes was dry, logical and analytical, Watson was emotional, intuitive and artistic. (In real life, Conan Doyle himself was really closely allied in character to Watson, because he was a medical doctor and writer, and Holmes was modeled after one of Doyle’s professors, Dr Bell, who had amazing powers of deduction.) But Holmes needed an opposite to himself, like Watson, around him as a counterweight to maintain a sense of balance, equanimity and stability and so that he didn’t go too far off on his own tangents. This included Holmes’ cocaine habit to which Watson protested vehemently. The stories have such universal appeal in part because of the truths that come out in the Holmes – Watson interplay and how opposite personalities can synergisticly benefit each others’ perspective and thinking in a healthy way.

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