"Genius is in-born, may it never be still-born."

"Oysters, irritated by grains of sand, give birth to pearls. Brains, irritated by curiosity, give birth to ideas."

"Brainpower is the bridge to the future; it is what transports you from wishful thinking to willful doing."

"Unless you keep learning & growing, the status quo has no status."

Monday, May 3, 2010


First, let us see how you see.

Which is the odd number and letter respectively in the following formulation:

1) Thirteen;
2) Thirty-one;
3) One-third;

There are several answers that one could select.

For example, the odd number could be:

- Thirteen ~ it is the only unhyphenated number; the only superstitiously unluck number;

- Thirty-one ~ it is the only number with three syllables; the only number where 3 comes before the 1;

- One-third ~ it is the only fraction in the list or the only number less than 1;

There are various other options within this selection.

However, the only number that truly stands out is the number (2); it is the one that does not contain the digits 'one' and/or 'three'.

If you were focusing solely on the numbers written in words alone, then that is a virtual box created by you as a prison!

[Excerpted from the wonderful book, 'Surfing the Intellect: Building Intellectual Capital in a Knowledge Economy', by Dilip Mukerjea;]

Say Keng's expert comments:

Actually, Dilip has already given readers a pretty good hint - probably to reduce your agony - when he posed the above question.

Given a choice, I would have posed 'Which one of the following is most different?'

Nonetheless, what Dilip has highlighted in his book is a classic example of a 'cognitive trap', which illustrates a common phenomenon among most of us whenever we look at the world unconsciously with our blinkers on, so to speak.

In essence, & sad to say, it's a self-imposed limitation.

Personal productivity guru Stephen Covey once illuminated it best: "The way you see the problem is the problem."

Readers who are keen to explore this phenomenon can read the following works:

- 'Conceptual Blockbusting: A Guide to Better Ideas', by James Adams; [he had identified many other key 'mental blocks': perceptual, emotional, cultural, environmental, intellectual, & expressive]

- 'More Ways to Use Your Head: New Methods for Developing Better Brain Power', by psychologist Stuart Litvak [he had identified almost a dozen of other interesting 'cognitive traps'];

- 'Mindfulness', by psychologist (of Harvard University) Ellen Langer;

That's why, Dilip & I always believe that, in order to realise our fullest creative potential, we must constantly check our perceptual sensitivity to the world.

I recommend one quick way, as a self-check, by asking the following questions:

- what do I choose to see?

- where do I direct my attention?

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