Triangle Man, Triangle Man

Open your mind to change.

Take a look at the picture above and count all of the triangles. How many are there? One, two, five, eight, eleven…?

In reality, there are no complete triangles at all. You may see them but they are simply not there. In this optical illusion, called the Kanizsa Triangle, your mind automatically draws the lines to create the illusion of a triangle.

Raed the fowloinlg txet and tehn tlel me yuor biran is not wniokrg bihned the sneces cnriteag wrdos out of jriebsibh. Your mind sees what it wants to see, what is familiar. In this case: words. The first and last letters are in the right spots, but the middle is garbled. But still, you figured it out fairly easily.

There is an important lesson we learn about change from these mind tricks: when we are introduced to something new we tend to view it with pre-conceived expectations. It’s how the brain works. We fill in the blanks with what we expect will be there before it actually happens.

When we are introduced to change our thought patterns automatically start accepting or rejecting it based on pre-conceived notions we have accumulated over a lifetime. This is particularly true when working through the change required to embrace continuous improvement.

To be successful we need to first understand that we are viewing change through a lens; only then can we choose to look beyond these filters. In other words, we need to open our vision to the possibilities of the new, recognizing that our minds might be making mountains out of molehills, or in this case, crafting triangles out of thin air.

Opposite George

The continuous improvement mindset suggests that small changes over time eventually add up to big changes. Examples are plentiful for this principle, but of course there are exceptions to the rule. Small trumps big almost every time.

Not many people have been successful turning their entire lives around in a single day. George Costanza is the poster boy for big (some prefer “stocky”) change. This clip from Seinfeld’s Opposite George episode is classic on so many levels.

Professionally, Opposite George can be a great teacher for change. When I teach continuous improvement to others, I show this clip and challenge the group to get out of their comfort zones and try new things. “Try being opposite George for a day.”

I am currently reading Matt May’s new book, Winning the Brain Game, and was happy to see Matt call out Opposite George as an inspiration to naming a technique he calls “Opposite World.” An exercise that helps you flip your thinking on end to see things from a new and fresh perspective – just what you need when trying to solve a problem and you are battling with Fixation. (One of the 7 fatal flaws of thinking in Mays new book).

Thank you George for leading a revolution in opposition.