We tend to think that we know the truth when we see it, but we can look right at something and not see it. We tend to lock on to conventional and conditioned ways of thinking, which lock out options that would be open to us through possibility thinking seeing beyond convention or conditioning and focusing on what we want in life.

Possibility thinkers constantly search for options and new ways to get things done. If one way doesn’t work, they try another until they win.

Ask yourself, “Do I lock on more to the problem than the solution? Would I see the solution if it was right in front of me? Or have I built a blind spot that says, ‘It can’t be done?'”

When talking about blind spots, I use the word scotoma, which is Greek for blindness. When someone complains, “I don’t get it” or “It doesn’t make sense to me,” he or she has a scotoma. Scotoma is when your senses lock out the environment. It’s not just visual, it can affect all the senses. You can be in a conversation and not hear what the other person says; you can be having fun at a party and not smell the smoke from a fire outside; you might not taste something you normally hate in your food; you could be boxing, and not feel the punch that breaks your nose.

Scotomas cause us to see what we expect to see, hear what we expect to hear, think what we expect to think. “They can’t win they never do.” “She won’t go out with meshe never does.” “We can’t sell to that company we never have.” This blocking out of optional truths around us is common. When you lock on to an opinion, belief, or attitude, you build scotomas to anything that doesn’t verify what you believe. You become a prisoner to preconceived ways of seeing things and habitual ways of doing things.

Scotomas block change, flexibility, and creativity because they make us gather information selectively. When you see the old lady, you blind yourself to the young.

Scotomas cause friendships to dissolve, marriages to fail, nations to go to war. Each side thinks, “What’s the matter with you? Are you blind?” Frankly, the answer is yes. Everybody has blind spots.

Once you understand scotomas, you will begin to see many more options and opportunities in your life. You will apply this to the way you look at your business, your children, your spouse, your clients, your friends, your career, and yourself.

When we lock on, we lock out. What have you locked on to about your life? Have you locked on that “I can’t win,” “This won’t sell,” “She’s no good,” “He’s all right,” “That won’t work,” “This will work”? Be aware that you manipulate your very senses by these conclusions. You blind yourself to options, even when you’re immersed in them.

problem solving techniques

Have you ever been around people who lock on forever? They don’t see any other option. “This is how I live. There is no other way.” “I’ve been in this relationship forever. There is no other relationship.” “It’s tradition in this company. My grandfather did it this way, my father did it this way, and I do it this way. There is no other way.” For them, there is no other way. Why? Because when they lock on that this is the only way, they build a scotoma to options, no matter what you say or do or show them. They sincerely believe, “I know the truth when I see it.”

Seeing New Options

When I was coach at Kennedy High School, I had my players for four years, so I thought I knew them very well. I would lock on to my opinion of their capability. That made me dumb and blind. I was so locked on to what I thought was “the truth” about everybody else, that I could never see my players clearly. My self-esteem was so low that it had blocked me from listening to the kids on my team. “What would people think if I asked the players what to do? After all, I was supposed to know it all.” I knew I didn’t know it all, but my low self esteem made me too embarrassed to ask for help.

You may be the same way. When you see a new option for the first time, you’ll be very embarrassed. You’ll say to yourself, “Why didn’t I see that before?”

Often we don’t know we have a blind spot. We continue our daily routines raising a family, running a business, doing our jobs in a state of semi-myopia. We don’t see all the optional truths around us. Scotomas not only prevent us from finding the solution, they also block us from seeing the problem. “It’s right in front of your nose!” “No, it isn’t. Where?” “Over there!” “Well, it wasn’t there before. Who moved it?”

Did you ever argue with your children or spouse, and say, “It’s so obvious! How can you deny it? You’re just being stubborn and belligerent!” You see the young lady, and they only see the old. They think you’re crazy, and you think they’re nuts!

But scotomas can be highly constructive. The lock-on process building your own scotomas to outside distractions helps you focus intently on the challenge at hand. You lock on to achieve a goal: to make more money, create a successful marriage, make a speech or throw a football under pressure.

However, this very ability to concentrate single-mindedly on an objective can become your weakness. Because you are so strong and opinionated and because you need that very strength to win, you may be blind to the other options. Along with distractions, you may also be locking out a better way.

We look at successful people, and often we say, “They’re lucky.

Things break well for them.” Are they lucky? Or do they just see more than you see? Do they see differently? A different point of view can suddenly open up so much more.

What sets high-performance people apart is that they have fewer scotomas than other people. They are intensely focused on their goals, yet they remain skeptical and analytical. They recognize that they don’t see the whole truth, so they take creative risks in search of more truth. As the quantity of truth that they see increases, so do the lucky “breaks” in their lives. That has little to do with coincidence, intelligence, or luck it has to do with the way that they think.

When you apply these principles, you will gain more open mindedness, flexibility, option thinking”What can I be? What can I do? What don’t I see? How can I see it?” Now if I don’t know something or if I think I have a scotoma to it I say, “Please show me.”

As you learn to use these skills, your life will “break” better for you. Every time you look around, you’ll see an option you never saw before: “I’ll be darned. Look at that. There’s another one.”

Scotoma Busting

We must keep an open mind and hold the belief: The answers are there. I just don’t see them yet. But I will see them soon. And we must believe that about ourselves and others.

If I lock on that you don’t have what it takes, it’ll be difficult for you to succeed. I will build a scotoma to anything you do that would make me look crazy for believing what I believe. You could struggle to improve, but if I believe that you were born without it, I won’t see you making the grade.

You may have to become a Scotoma Buster for yourself and others by learning how to see what you may not presently see; how to make life easier for yourself and your children. You’ve got to learn to resist negative conditioning. You’ve got to keep reminding yourself: “The answers are there. I just don’t see them yet. But I will see them soon.” You’ve got to uncondition yourself in areas where you’re working too hard to make things happen. With that approach, you’ll be off on a great treasure hunt: “I’ll find out how. I’ll find solutions along the way.”

Ask yourself the big questions: “What have I locked on to about me? What attitudes, beliefs, truths?” Once you label yourself, you build scotomas to other things you can be. There are options and alternatives, if you’re open-minded and flexible.

The only difference between average and high-performance people those who constantly seem to get the “breaks”is that they see more because they think differently.

As you change the way you think, you change the way you are. Progress starts in the mind, where thoughts accumulate to build beliefs. If you accumulate false or partially true beliefs about your capabilities and potential, then that’s how you’ll behave.

How would you behave if you believed “It is easier for a camel to slip through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to get to heaven?” If you had the opportunity to be rich but you also wanted to go to heaven some day your subconscious would cause you to push away riches with both hands. It’s not just money. If you believe, for example, that because of a mistake you made in the past, you don’t deserve happiness, then every time happiness approaches you’ll shove it away with both hands. And you’ll wonder why your life isn’t going so well.

Years ago, I worked with some ex-convicts. One man, Emmett, had just gotten out of prison after being in for a long time. He was about 60, and he’d been a drunk and a burglar. After I taught Emmett, he decided, “I’ll go legitimate.” He chose the upholstery business reupholstering furniture. He’d never been in business before, but he’d learned that skill in prison.

He had a problem, though. He needed a sewing machine that cost hundreds of dollars, but all Emmett had was $56. Right away, he figured “I can’t do it.” I said, “How do you know that?” He said, ”Well, Don told me.” Don was a prisoner inside Walla Walla who’d been locked up for 13 years. He was the tough guy who ran the prison, and he knew it all. So the information that Emmett got from Don was that ex-convicts can’t get credit. To Emmett, that was “the truth.”

I said, “Why don’t you try it?” Finally, he did. And somehow he got a sewing machine on credit. He came back to one of our follow-up sessions and told me his success story. He said, “I went in and put my $56 down, and the guy gave me a sewing machine on credit!” Emmett then added, “The guy didn’t even ask me if I was a convict!” He got his sewing machine because he kept his old attitude from sabotaging his goal.