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Explore: Seeing Differently

Explore by seeing differently. Why? When we alter our attention, writes Gregory Berns, Ph.D., we can change our perceptions. In Iconoclast: A Neuroscientist Reveals How to Think Differently, Berns asserts that seeing differently jumpstarts creativity and innovation. Innovators, he says, perceive things differently than other people. For example, the Nobel prize–winning scientist who helped develop MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) "saw the potential of hidden information," in what others perceived as garbage.

Our world marks no limit to what we can create or accomplish if we try looking differently at our surroundings to see different combinations, different purposes and different meanings.

How can we begin seeing differently? Here are a few ideas:

1.     Change your environment, recommends Berns. Get out a find a new place. Try frequenting a new coffee shop or independent bookstore or antiques shop. Take a "field trip" to a library, museum or public garden. Or, more drastically, visit (or move to) a new city or even a new country.

2.     Meet new people. For one thing, Berns writes, different people will inevitably introduce different perspectives and ideas through your conversation with them. Berns also advises that networking aids us in collaborating with others who can complement our own strengths.

3.     First try to see in "black and white," suggests Iain, a graphic designer, in order to understand meaning. Then translate the meaning into "colour" and create a tangible image. In other words, look for the skeletal outline in order to understand a thing's wholeness. Iain's wonderful image of his son’s seeing dinosaurs rather than park benches lends a sense of wonder to seeing differently.

4.     Practice improvising. The Brave New Workshop (BNW) explains: "We absolutely believe that the infusion of laughter and the sharing of improvisational skills can increase learning, innovation, leadership, creativity and productivity." BNW owner Jeff Sweeney says that innovators discover ideas rather than manufacture them.

5.     Change your focus. In this photography tips post, Karen Walrond discusses shooting images in black-and-white vs. color, honing in on specific colors, altering the symmetry of a composition, and simply walking 100 paces and taking a look at what's there. Though her advice is aimed toward photographers, it applies to everyday life: pay attention to textures and colors around you; consider the symmetry of, say, items on your desk; walk 100 paces from where you are and search for something unique to examine from a perspective of seeing differently.

6.     Take a look at the book Chalk the Block from Klutz and bring some sidewalk chalk along on your next walk around the neighborhood. Doodle along your stroll.

7.     Turn the world upside-down. As a child, I was fascinated by Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's upside-down house. Sometimes I would hold a mirror under my nose and imagine the ceiling was the floor. Try doing this. Carefully.

8.     Consider the view from the back side. A Twitter post from Karen Walrond pointed me to these images of groups photographed from behind. What else you could observe from the back side?

9.     Look at the sky. Spread a blanket out on the lawn or at the park and spend some time seeing images in the clouds—or in the sky between the clouds.

10.  Try reading from bottom to top or from right to left. The next time you're waiting at a stop sign or stoplight, read the text of signs backwards. ("Queen Dairy" feels different than "Dairy Queen.")

Explore how seeing differently can spark your creativity; innovation; or way of connecting with clients, children or those who are important to you, even yourself. Recently I saw a sign at a transmission shop that read "PLACE YOUR TRUST IN US. JUST CALL." Perusing the text backwards, I smiled as I read "TRUST YOUR PLACE." On this new Learn + Explore + Share journey, I found the statement happily validating. Explore your potential. Go start seeing differently!