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How to Think Like a Fool in 60 Ways

Here's the complete list of blog posts with links: How to Think Like a Fool: RIPPO the Fool—5 Types of Fool Think RISK #1: Look for Trou...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

How to Think Like a Fool #25: Destroy

IMAGINE: Destroy
To imagine is a creative act, so this section ends with imagining the destruction of your project in an effort to start over. From Humpty Dumpty's shell, you build a wall nobody can fall off of.

For fools, this is joyful and playful destruction, truly letting the imagination run wild. Think of the anarchic chaos produced by the Marx Brothers, especially Harpo.

You use this approach when you get really stuck. When your ideas have become frozen, stuffy, tired. You've made a house with wooden blocks, and now you knock it over to build a castle, or just for fun.

Throw your first draft in the fireplace, and rewrite without the influence of that draft.

Think: What would this problem or solution look like if I were to dramatically destroy it? How can I best wreck it? What can I do with the pieces or what if I just start over from scratch?

Saturday: How to Think Like a Fool #26: PLAY: Make Fun

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

How to Think Like a Fool #24: Worry about Everything

IMAGINE: Worry about Everything!
“What if” is a powerful start to a question that is also an answer to the imagination. It allows you to suspend judgement about the impossible, fantasize, misremember, and exaggerate. It also allows fools to worry about everything that could possibly go wrong, often based on selected facts. “What if this were to happen, or this, or this?”

WARNING: Worrying about everything may cause procrastination, paralysis, nervousness, impotence, heart failure, global warming, and excessive worrying.

So how do fools make worrying work for them?

First, don't worry about everything all the time. Pick a time and a place, set a timer, and worry for a short period. Write all the worries down. They may give you information to use later, when you aren't so stressed. Look for the absurdities in the worries. Make them more absurd with exaggeration until they can't be taken seriously anymore.

Imagining all the things that can go wrong gives you a list of problems to fix with foolishly clever inventions. What a great source of potential inspiration! My first silent movie was about imagining what would happen if a guy who went to change a light bulb couldn't get down from the chair and had to figure out how to survive while living up there. (The Guy Who Lived on the Chair, available on DVD with “The Guy Who” Movies).

The fool's secret is that it's possible to worry and be physically relaxed at the same time. Then the worries lose their power and action can be taken.

Think: What if everything that could go wrong went worse? What else could go wrong? What else? What am I going to do about it?

Tomorrow: How to Think Like a Fool #25: Destroy

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Monday, May 25, 2009

How to Think Like a Fool #23: Misremember the Past

IMAGINE: Misremember the Past
If fools fantasize the future to change the future, they also misremember the past to change the present.

Obstacles in the way of success may be past rejections, fears, failures, and other supposedly negative experiences.

Research continues to show that memory isn't a perfectly clear reflection of reality and can be distorted after the fact. So if the memories that hold you back aren't completely accurate and are malleable, why not revise them to move forward.

A fools trips on the sidewalk—no, just practicing a new dance move. Dropped a juggling ball—never happened, problem solved.

In his hilarious, moving, and intelligent one-man show Sleepwalk with Me, comedian Mike Birbiglia talks a lot about the dangers of denial, but has also found it helpful at times:

"I really think to become a stand-up comedian, you have to be delusional. If you weren't, then you wouldn't continue, because there's so much failure at the outset that you have to tell yourself that it's going well when it's not."
link: Mike Birbiglia | | A.V. Club

Re-imagine your memories. Loosen your attachment to them. Tell yourself a new story.

Today I went for a bike ride, and when I had just started up the street, something felt funny. I looked down at my feet and saw that I was wearing my house slippers. I turned around and went home and put on real shoes as my wife laughed and laughed.

That's how I remember it, but I'm going to misremember that I was actually wearing big fuzzy Bugs Bunny slippers, and I didn't notice it until one of the bunny ears got stuck in the chain. Which kept me from getting hit by the truck that went through a stop sign. Those slippers saved my life!

Now I'm not so embarrassed.

Think: What memories are getting in the way? How can I misremember them?

Tomorrow: How to Think Like a Fool #24: Worry about Everything

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

How to Think Like a Fool #22: Picture an Audience

IMAGINE: Picture an Audience
RIPPO the Fool works on a project at home, alone. With 1500 people watching, applauding, laughing, and cheering. At the end, RIPPO gets a standing ovation.

All in RIPPO's head.

As a solo performer, I find the presence of an audience changes everything.

On the negative side, unresponsive audiences suck the life out of a show like a herd of Roombas (or it can be just one scowling person sitting in the front row. Or maybe the show sucked first).

I can practice a juggling feat flawlessly in my rehearsal studio, but choke on it with self-consciousness in front of an audience. At the funeral for my vaudeville consultant Jay Marshall, a sign on his casket read, "Not the first time I died."

Most of the time, though, audiences give me energy, immediate feedback, spontaneous moments to react to, and a state of play that inspires me to improvise ideas I might never have thought up or tried in rehearsal. So why not harness this when not performing?

While working on something challenging, in your mind's eye see an audience watching you, applauding your successes and choices. You act as if you are performing, demonstrating each step for them. This is an ideal audience, made up of the most forgiving friends and fans. Your nervousness energizes you. You show off, because under the influence of showing off, people do dumb but brilliant things. Build suspense. Entertain them. Wow them!

Your grand finale is the solution to your problem.

THINK: How big is my imaginary audience? Who are they? How are they reacting? What do they like and don't like?

Tomorrow: How to Think Like a Fool #23: Misremember the Past

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

How to Think Like a Fool #21: Fantasize the Future

IMAGINE: Fantasize the Future
When fools are accused of procrastinating, wasting time, just sitting there, and doing nothing, they whip out their printed and laminated copies of this article:

“Contrary to the notion that daydreaming is a sign of laziness, letting the mind wander can actually let the parts of the brain associated with problem-solving become active, a new study finds.”
link: Daydream away — it’s a workout for your brain - Behavior- msnbc.com

But the concept of daydreaming contains more than just mind-wandering. Fools guide their daydreams as future fantasies where, unlike the Murphy's Law which they are tied to in the real world, in their foolish minds, whatever can go right, will go right.

With this Fool Tool, you give gentle prompts to your imaginings, just enough to get them going. With practice, your visualizations take on a life of their own, presenting clues and answers that solve mysteries.

Or at least give you a break.

Think: What would it look like if I solved this problem creatively, beautifully, meaningfully, fantastically? How did I get there? What if I let my mind wander along that path?

Tomorrow: How to Think Like a Fool #22: Picture an Audience

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Friday, May 22, 2009

How to Think Like a Fool #20: Exaggerate the Details

IMAGINE: Exaggerate the Details
Exaggerating helps to find problems or make things more difficult. It's also a great way to break out of a stuck mindset and push yourself to fix the unbroken.

If you've got one, what if you had one hundred, or if it's big, what if it was miniscule? The answers to these questions and others like them lead to new paths of imaginary exploration, and if put into action, will take more work, but will be harder to imitate.

The EepyBird Guys may not have been the first to create a geyser by putting Mentos in a bottle of Diet Coke, but they used the power of exaggeration (and inspired choreography) to create an internet-and-beyond phenomenon with 101 two-liter bottles of Diet Coke and 523 Mentos. For those few people who still haven't seen it:

"At EepyBird, we always try to take things further than any sane person would, so we spent the next eight months developing different effects, building up to Experiment #137... As we kept developing new fountain effects, we realised we had to try something really huge."
—Fritz Grobe from: The brains behind: EepyBird.com - .net magazine

Although I have uncovered a top-secret photo of EepyBird guy Stephen Voltz that may show where he truly gets his ideas:

Think: How can I exaggerate details of my problem? What if I multiply, shrink, stretch, enlarge, or somehow overly alter aspects of the solution?

Tomorrow: How to Think Like a Fool #21: Fantasize the Future

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

How to Think Like a Fool #19: Borrow Ideas

IMAGINE: Borrow Ideas
It's been said (or paraphrased) that “good artists borrow, great artists steal.” But a fool borrows ideas just long enough to imaginatively transform them until they unrecognizable. Then the original idea can be returned to its owner before the police are called.

You use an idea as a starting point, a beginning of a journey that involves all the other FoolThink concepts, finding variations on the idea, then variations on the variations, substituting parts, adding, combining, and finally, truly changing the idea.

Or even better, take a good idea from a discipline completely outside your own and figure out how to apply it to your problem. Abstract the concept enough to be fleshed out with your dilemma's specifics.

Here's an example of scientists borrowing from the field of food preparation:

“Australian researchers have uncovered the science behind tossing the perfect pizza dough in a quest to make smaller, more efficient motors for use in microrobotics.”
Pizzamimicry Can Lead to Improved Micro-Motors

And don't just borrow good ideas—borrow bad ones and fix them.

Think: Where can I find an idea to borrow? Which idea will I borrow? What can I do with it? What else? What then? When will I return it?

See also my article/virtual workshop: How to Steal Material Without Getting Caught

Tomorrow: How to Think Like a Fool #20: Exaggerate the Details

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

How to Think Like a Fool #18: Transform Objects

IMAGINE: Transform Objects
It's a common exercise in acting and clown classes: the students stand in a circle, an object is passed around, and each participant pretends that the object is something, anything, other than it is. A rope becomes a clarinet, a plate becomes a hat, a pillow becomes a rocket ship. They're tapping into the imagination we had as kids, where the box a toy came in could have more possibilities for make-believe than the toy itself.

As Dan Kamin writes about in his marvelous book, The Comedy of Charlie Chaplin (break open your piggy bank, sell your comic book collection, or rob a convenience store to get this book!), Chaplin was a master of the transformation gag, by not only transforming objects, but also settings, body parts, actions, and relationships, he created the visual equivalent of a pun.

Looking at objects beyond their customary functions opens you to many more potential solutions. You use things in ways for which they were never intended, but are exactly what you need.

Think: What else can this be? What else can this do? What does this remind me of or suggest to me? What would I like it to do be do be do?

Tomorrow: How to Think Like a Fool #19: Borrow Ideas

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

How to Think Like a Fool #17: Connect the Unrelated

IMAGINE: Connect the Unrelated
If you take two or more concepts, words, objects, or even people, and find different ways to put them together, the Frankenstein monster that results may come to life, cure what ails you, solve all your problems, and give you a back massage. Or not. Or it could give something you would have never imagined before.

Some tips for successful imaginary grafting include not spending time looking for things that will fit together easily. The randomness of connecting some of the first things you see brings those rare thoughts from outside your comfort zone.

It may take a lot of work/play/imagining to make the amalgamations produce anything useful, so it's worth pushing through that feeling of pointlessness.

I find that when working in this way, I get flashes of ideas that do solve the problem (or another problem), even if they don't involve the original objects or concepts I'm connecting. I write these ideas down, because who cares if they don't follow the rules of the connection game I'm playing—the bigger game is to solve the problem, no matter where the ideas come from or how they are conceived.

Think: How can I connect these? What do they have in common? Where do they fit? What can they do together that they could not do separately?

Tomorrow: How to Think Like a Fool #18: Transform Objects

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Monday, May 18, 2009

How to Think Like a Fool #16: Imagine the Impossibilities

IMAGINE: Imagine the Impossibilities

"To open the show, I always like to do one thing that is impossible. So right now I'm going to suck this piano into my lungs."
—Steve Martin

“Impossible is a word to be found only in the dictionary of fools.”
—Napoleon Bonaparte

There's a dictionary of fools? That would make writing this so much easier.

Fools solve problems by enlisting their imaginations (I initially wrote "unlisting", which would also work), and because they risk, they imagine the impossible.

You will either find that the impossible is really possible, or else you will find a workable idea inspired by the impossible.

Seriously and foolishly consider the impossible, because you open yourself up to potential solutions you once dismissed. There is a freedom to considering the impossible, like discovering you can breathe underwater.

Think: What are the impossibilities here? How can I make them possible?

Tomorrow: How to Think Like a Fool #17: Connect the Unrelated

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Friday, May 15, 2009

How to Think Like a Fool #15: Play It Safe

RISK: Play It Safe

"Luck is everything... My good luck in life was to be a really frightened person. I'm fortunate to be a coward, to have a low threshold of fear, because a hero couldn't make a good suspense film." —Alfred Hitchcock

“I never thought much of the courage of a lion tamer. Inside the cage he is at least safe from people.”—George Bernard Shaw

"I'm a hero with coward's legs"
—Spike Milligan

This will be the last entry under the Fool Think category of Risk, and because fools balance contradictions, their biggest risk is playing it safe.

RIPPO the Fool is ready to risk. RIPPO has on safety goggles, a surgical mask, a suit of armor, a parachute, an iPhone, a bow and arrow, and a lucky four-leaf clover. RIPPO dives into the swimming pool, and would have drowned, but fortunately, there is no water in the pool.

If you believe you are safe, you'll have a strong base to take risks from. Even if that safety is illusory.

In the Hansom Cabman, Harry Langdon, caught with another woman by his fiancée and her mother, hands his mother-in-law to-be a pistol and tells her to shoot him in the chest. Her daughter takes her away, and then Harry reveals he had a metal tray under his shirt. The mother comes back and Harry struggles to get the tray back in place, then runs, getting shot in the rear. He was prepared, though, with a tray in his pants as well.

And in Grandma's Boy, Harold Lloyd (like Dumbo and his feather) needs an imaginary charm to overcome his fears and save the day.

Some fools may be cowards towards conventional dangers, but brave enough to take other avenues of risk that mere heroes may envy (see the Hitchcock quote above).

Think: How can I play it safe? How can I protect myself? How can I give myself a false sense of security?

Tomorrow: How to Think Like a Fool #16: Imagine the Impossibilities

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

How to Think Like a Fool #14: Repeat Repeat Repeat

RISK: Repeat Repeat Repeat
This one apparently contradicts the last entry, which contradicted the one before that, which will contradict future entries. Are you seeing a pattern here in fool think?

The message today is, "If it at first you don't succeed, try the same thing again and again and again."

People often repeat this non-clinical definition of insanity: "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results" (a quote repeatedly attributed or misattributed to many different people). The fool's secret is that if you do the same thing over and over again with awareness, you may actually get different results.

A running gag—a joke that is repeated throughout a performance or fiction—initially loses its funny, and then triumphantly regains it through anticipation, variations, and the absurdity of the persistence. Similarly, a meditative mantra loses its meaning through repetition, becoming just nonsensical sounds, then eventually quiets the mind enough for new insights to be heard.

You either repeat the same tactic until you find the subtle twist that solves the problem, or finally see the problem for what it truly is, or make that creative leap to a better, different tactic.

Think: What am I doing that's not working? Repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat rinse repeat repeat repeat...

Tomorrow: How to Think Like a Fool #15: Play It Safe

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

How to Think Like a Fool #13: Give Up

RISK: Give Up
Happy Fool Year! For this Year of the Fools, I have given up the following things:

  • Chewing rocks
  • Telling adults there is no Santa
  • Shredding 100 dollar bills
  • Sticking my finger in light sockets
  • The ship
  • Public naked ballet dancing
  • My favorite adult beverage, "Cold Turkey"
  • Aging
  • Not breathing
  • Rigmarole

What a sense of success and achievement I got from compiling this list!

Giving up is such a part of foolishness, that suicide has been a theme of many a clown, from Commedia dell'Arte to Waiting for Godot. One of my first clown pieces came out of a clown exercise in a class taught by John Towsen, in which he instructed us to enter the stage in despair and then to decide to kill ourselves—the only rule being that clowns can't die.

Giving up is about getting unstuck from a current train of thought that has derailed, and then generating (starting and stopping) as many ideas as you can, until the best ones emerge. Edward De Bono, in defining Lateral Thinking, has said, "You cannot dig a hole in a different place by digging the same hole deeper."

See also about quitting: The Dip by Seth Godin

Think: What can I give up? What can I give up that I never would begin? How often can I start something, stop, and start something else?

Tomorrow: How to Think Like a Fool #14: Repeat Repeat Repeat

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

How to Think Like a Fool #12: Never Give Up

RISK: Never Give Up
Maybe I should have quit performing a long time ago. I turn 45 this week and, as far as I know, I have not gained fame, fortune, or fancy furniture for that matter.

But I am a fool, and one things fools know how to do is persevere and persist in the face of futility and failures.

There's a fine line between a fool and a hero never giving up, usually defined after the fact, by whether one succeeds or not. Fools often put all their energies towards going after something mundane, misguided, absurd, or impossible.

When you actively seek rejection, and get that rejection over and over, it may wear you down, and you may want to quit. You could use a strong image of determination in the midst of constant setbacks. Make one up or...

Watch The General, Buster Keaton's feature film, in which his train is stolen and he, alone, follows it by foot, handcar, wooden bicycle, and finally another train, as a multitude of obstacles are thrown in his way (while some are self-created). Imagine yourself in his place, not fretting about whether you should keep on keeping on, but just how to solve the next problem, and the next, and so on.

So why do I still perform? Because I make my living at it, I am still creating personally meaningful and original pieces that audiences enjoy, I get to inspire others to create through teaching, and I keep learning so much on such an amazing adventure.

Think: What am I trying to achieve and what's the next step? No matter what, I'll never ever give up! And if I do, then I'll start again.

Tomorrow: How to Think Like a Fool #13: Give Up

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Monday, May 11, 2009

How to Think Like a Fool #11: Fix What Ain't Broken

RISK: Fix What Ain't Broken
What's your problem? No problem? Then figure out how to make the good enough better.

"The good is the enemy of the great."—Jim Collins

While it's very logical to settle, and seeking perfection is its own trap, you may be just around the corner from a brilliant idea, entranced by one that one works just fine. All you have to do is risk breaking what you are trying to fix, which is quite likely. But even breaking it could lead towards innovation, because now you have a new problem to solve.

This blog post so far explains the concept adequately, but I think I'll add a brief story to illustrate the concept. Will it make the post great? Probably not, but I preach what I practice.

A fool brushes his teeth the same way everyday. One day he tries a new way, attaching his toothbrush to a cordless drill. This knocks out one of his teeth, causing great pain. He puts it under his pillow and the next day the tooth fairy leaves him $100,000. And he lived wealthily and toothlessly ever after.

Think: What's working well here? How do I fix it to become amazing? How can I break it, so I can fix it another way?

Tomorrow: How to Think Like a Fool #12: Never Give Up

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

How to Think Like a Fool #10: Use Weaknesses as Strengths

RISK: Use Your Weaknesses as Strengths
Right now I am sitting in the airport, waiting for my delayed flight home. I am getting so sleepy, it's difficult to type, but at the same time, the writing is flowing faster because I'm too tired to censor my thoughts. Zzzzzzzz...

If you haven't noticed by now on this blog, I have taken something normally associated with stupidity and disaster—thinking like a fool—and advocate that there are positive benefits to thinking foolishly, especially in the realm of creative problem solving. Water can drown you or save your life. And there are two or more sides to your perceived weaknesses as well.

My onstage persona is one example of marshaling personal imperfections for professional achievement. My continuing hair-loss becomes a source of power and pride as the remaining hairs are sculpted and fearlessly featured. I also transform my everyday shy and quiet behavior into onstage silence occasionally punctuated by vocal emotional expressions. And I'm very pale (don't know how this makes me stronger, but it doesn't kill me).

Your alleged weaknesses may be physical, intellectual, emotional, behavioral, imaginary, defined by yourself, defined by others, or just the baggage we share as humans. There's probably at least one skill you think you could never learn or are terrible at.

If you can't eliminate your imperfections, put them to work.

Think: What flaws do I have or other people think I have? When can I champion them? How can I use these for good instead of evil?

Tomorrow: How to Think Like a Fool #11: Fix What Ain't Broken

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Saturday, May 9, 2009

How to Think Like a Fool #9: Trust in Dumb Luck

RISK: Trust in Dumb Luck
There's no guarantee that thinking like a fool will be helpful at all in creative problem solving. There are so many things outside your control or working against you, that it boggles the mind when inspiration occasionally appears. But what else are you going to do? Stop in a self-imposed paralysis? Give up because everything you've tried has failed? Don't even try, because things may not work?

"Chance favors those in motion."
—Dr. James H. Austin

Film comedian Harry Langdon's stage and screen character was a master of trusting in dumb luck, innocently diving into risky actions and often succeeding in spite of his misguided efforts. In his short film Luck o' the Foolish, Harry is shaving on a train using a straight razor with such nonchalance and disregard for the instrument's shapness that one is sure he will cut off his ear. He even uses the blade to clean shaving cream from the inside of his ear (do not try this at home or on a train).

It's this attitude of trust in action without over-thinking, over-worrying, and second-guessing, that sometimes will allow random events to contribute more to a solution than you ever could.

Don't try to drive the roller-coaster—sit back and enjoy the ride.

Think: Why not trust in dumb luck for awhile? Why not enjoy giving up some of the control that I might be imagining anyway?

Tomorrow: How to Think Like a Fool #10: Use Weaknesses as Strengths

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Friday, May 8, 2009

How to Think Like a Fool #8: Seek Rejection

RISK: Seek Rejection
I'm sorry, you are not qualified to read this blog post.

Only fools would seek the pain and torment of rejection... unless, these fools gradually up the number, intensity, and frequency of rejections until immunity sets in.

Then your odds increase for the occasional acceptance.

In Buster Keaton's Seven Chances, Buster must find someone to marry him that day, or he will lose his inheritance. Inevitably, he gets rejected quite often, finding new ways to propose as time runs out. At the end, he succeeds too well, being chased by a mob of brides-to-be.

Think: Who or what can reject me next? How many rejections can I collect today?

Tomorrow: How to Think Like a Fool #9: Trust in Dumb Luck

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

How to Think Like a Fool #7: Make a Fool Out of Yourself

RISK: Make a Fool Out of Yourself
One fear you will encounter when thinking like a fool is the fear of looking like a fool.

We make fools of ourselves all the time, so it should be easier than it is. But so many people (full disclosure—me) try so hard to not make fools out of themselves in everyday life (I'm better on stage), that they look foolish trying not to look foolish.

But wouldn't you rather look like a fool than be an idiot, if that meant, at the end, you produce brilliance?

Of course, if you can do all the foolishness in private, then all other people see is the end result. But it may take a long time for a seemingly foolish idea to be accepted as genius.

Stanley Moon: You're a nutcase! You're a bleedin' nutcase!
George Spiggott: They said the same of Jesus Christ, Freud, and Galileo.
Stanley Moon: They said it of a lot of nutcases too.
—From the movie Bedazzled with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore

Think: What do I have to do to make a fool out of myself? Is anyone watching? Either way, it's worth it.

Tomorrow: How to Think Like a Fool #8: Seek Rejection

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

How to Think Like a Fool #6: Scare Yourself

RISK: Scare Yourself
Before somebody else does.

You only need to know one word:

Works for me every time.

Like tickling yourself, scaring yourself is not always easy, because you know it's coming.

But fools may need to cure their hiccups by yelling BOO! (got me again) or push themselves past the finish-line by pretending they are being chased.

In my stage show, "Help! Help! I Know This Title is Long, But Somebody's Trying to Kill Me!", I frighten myself by pretending that all the other performers in the variety show were murdered, and I have to do all the acts in the show alone, or else I'm next. This forces me to find inventive ways to perform these acts, because I'm a master of none. Instead of courage, I rely on quirky creativity.

By taking on both the mischievous role of the scarer and the innocent role of the scaree, you play with your anxieties instead of being owned by them. Bring fun back to fear, like you were telling and hearing ghost stories around the campfire.

Think: How can I use fear to solve this problem? What am I afraid of? How can I scare myself?

Tomorrow: How to Think Like a Fool #7: Make a Fool Out of Yourself

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

How to Think Like a Fool # 5: Try a Really Bad Idea

RISK: Try a Really Bad Idea
You are absolutely, positively sure this idea won't work. You don't even have to think about it. What a perfect time to try it out before you discard it into the dustbin of stupidity.

Recently, I've been watching Laurel and Hardy movies, and often something will happen like this: Stan will start to chop branches for the fire on the counter. Ollie will tell him to do it on the floor instead. Knowing them and their movies, where everything that can go wrong, you can see coming a mile away, I shout, "Don't do it!" and inevitably Stan chops off the front of Ollie's shoe (although the toes escape amputation by retreating). It's a bad idea just to give one of them a sharp object.

But there are benefits to following though with apparently misguided ideas. When you say no right away, you start building blocks in front of a brainstorm. At least write the idea down as if you planned to come back to it, which will keep your mind well lubricated. And this idea may lead you towards a better one, or, after some thought and experimentation, might be a great idea after all.

If all you have to lose is the front of your shoe, start chopping.

Think: Is this idea good or bad? Who cares? Let's try it anyway! In fact, what's the worst solution I can think of for this problem?

Recently in the NY Times: Searching for Value in Ludicrous Ideas - Allison Arieff Blog

Tomorrow: How to Think Like a Fool #6: Scare Yourself

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Monday, May 4, 2009

How to Think Like a Fool #4: Set Yourself Up for Failure

RISK: Set Yourself Up for Failure
There are many ways to set yourself up for failure, whether it's setting unrealistic goals, trying to do too much in too little time, sabotaging your efforts, over-worrying, or basically thinking like a fool.

Fools plan to fail so that they make mistakes sooner. Here you bump up the risk-taking by consciously botching things. The sooner and more often you fail, the quicker you learn.

And in your perceived failure may be the solution to your problem or another unrelated problem—think of the mistakes that led to Penicillin and Post-it Notes.

You might even be a mistake.

Think: What do I have to do to fail at this? How can I make it happen sooner than later?

Tomorrow: How to Think Like a Fool # 5: Try a Really Bad Idea

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Sunday, May 3, 2009

How to Think Like a Fool #3: Don't Solve the Problem

RISK: Don't Solve the Problem
Now that you've found or created problems, why bother to solve them? March forth!

Even when your foot is stuck in a bucket and your pants are down, your real goal may be to jump rope while standing on a ball. If you spend too much time trying to free your foot and pull up your pants, you may never realize your wonderful, crazy dream.

You have bigger foolishness to fry. Achieve imperfection! The original problem will either take care of itself, quit distracting you from the larger ones, or increase the challenge.

Think: What problem or problems are holding me back? How can I move forward without solving them?

See also my older post on not solving the problem.

Tomorrow: How to Think Like a Fool #4: Set Yourself Up for Failure

Previous "How to Think Like a Fool" Posts

Saturday, May 2, 2009

How to Think Like a Fool #2: Make Things More Difficult

RISK: Make Things More Difficult

"Deep in the sea are riches beyond compare.
But if you seek safety, it is on the shore."
—Saadi of Shiraz

When the going gets tough, the fool makes it tougher. Whether you are solving a problem, creating new ones to solve, or just performing an everyday activity, it doesn't take much effort to increase the difficulty.

Right now I'm typing this while standing on my office chair (one that swivels and rolls), my knees aren't bent, and my keyboard is on my desk. Why not?

Challenge relieves boredom, stretches your abilities, adds some fun, and makes the original problem fade away in the process. I'm no longer worried about the quality of my writing, because I'm now trying to keep from falling.

My back now hurts. Yes! New problem to solve! Or I could make things even harder by standing on one foot and increasing the distance between the desk and the chair.

Creative solutions aren't always the easiest or the most economical.

Think: How can I make this more difficult?

See also my older post on obstacles.

UPDATE: Make Things More Difficult Movie

TOMORROW How to Think Like a Fool # 3: Don't Solve the Problem
How to Think Like a Fool #1: Look for Trouble
RIPPO the Fool—5 Types of Fool Think
How to Think Like a Fool in 60 DWays

Friday, May 1, 2009

How to Think Like a Fool #1: Look for Trouble

RISK: Look For Trouble
To solve problems like a fool, you need problems. You may object that you already have enough problems, but RIPPO the Fool knows that finding the problems before they find you gives you the upper-hand and the element of surprise.

The world is your banana peel—step on it! Embrace the peel! Say "yes!" to the problems that you encounter. Dance with trouble and you'll exercise your creative muscles.

Plus, a pinpointed problem is easier to solve.

What's your problem? Find another. And another. Bring it on.

UPDATE: Look for Trouble Movie:

TOMORROW How to Think Like a Fool #2: Make Things More Difficult

RIPPO the Fool—5 Types of Fool Think

After looking over my list of 60 "How to Think Like a Fool" concepts, I found they awkwardly fit into 5 categories, with many being able to crossover the boundaries—just like a good fool does.


They're pretty self-explanatory. That's a picture of RIPPO below:

NEXT How to Think Like a Fool #1: Look for Trouble

How to Think Like a Fool in 60 DWays

For the next 60 days, I'm going to post a concept a day on how to think like a fool for creative problem solvers (who have a playful sense of humor). Last year I posted a rough list of 30 Ways to Think Foolishly based on over 25 years of research studying, performing, and teaching the art of foolery. Since then I've refined, edited, and added to the list, which has grown to 60 concepts that fit under 5 categories. My sources include Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, The Marx Brothers, Bugs Bunny, Wile E. Coyote, Sufi teaching stories, new and old Vaudevillians, theatre and circus clowns, writers and visual artists, inventors, eccentrics, my own performance work, and my own foolish life.

"The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool."—Shakespeare

Let me know if you find any of this useful, and if you do, tell a friend.
You can follow me on twitter @drewfool

NEXT RIPPO the Fool: 5 Types of Fool Think