When we learn something, we are taught to program it into our brain and stop thinking about or looking for alternatives. We have been taught to have “spotlight” awareness and to exclude alternatives and possibilities. Over time, this spotlight mindset becomes stronger and stronger. To get a sense of how strong this mindset is, try solving the following problem.

THOUGHT EXPERIMENT

Consider the following problem which involves multiples of five. It’s a complex problem which can only be solved thinking inclusively and unconventionally.

05, 10, 15, 20, 30, 35?

Of the five numbers below, which completes the series above?

06, 15, 18, 20, 25

The series is a progression of multiples of five and the expected answer should be 40. But 40 is not listed.

A creative thinker would ask “How else can I look at this problem?” “How can I rethink the way I see the number 40?” “Can it be expressed in a different way?” Well, it can be expressed many different ways; for example, Roman numerals and so on.

But the answer must be listed in the second series of numbers, so the thinker would wonder about different ways of looking at the listed numbers. Can they take some other form?

One different way of looking at the numbers is to transform the numbers into alphabetical letters. F is the #6 letter of the alphabet; 15 = O; 18 = R; 20 = T; and 25 = Y. The numbers when converted to letters spell “Forty.” The answer to the problem is all five numbers are necessary to complete the series. This problem can only be solved by thinking inclusively and considering the least obvious approaches as well as the conventional ones.