When you are struggling to solve a problem, do you ever find that you get stuck in a rut of stale, circular thinking? To use a quote from Einstein, “The thinking that got us where we are is not the thinking that will get us where we want to be.”
In 1975 musician and artist Brian Eno and multimedia artist Peter Schmidt had both independently been developing tools to use to keep their minds from slipping into default thinking when facing artistic and time pressures. They pooled their ideas and collaborated to create a deck of cards designed to catalyze creative thinking. These cards were first published in 1975 and were known as the Oblique Strategies. Each card has an aphorism or phrase written on one side, which is intended to spur lateral thinking that may lead to creating a novel way of solving a dilemma or breaking a mental block. Some of these sayings may be more specific to music, but many can be used in general situations.
Some examples are:
“Honor thy error as a hidden intention.
You don’t have to be ashamed of using your own ideas.
Ask your body.
What wouldn’t you do?
Give the game away.”
Why not try applying one or more of these questions to a dilemma or problem that you are currently trying to solve? The set of cards has been through several editions, most of which are limited editions and very rare. However, if you are interested in buying your own current edition, you can find it here.