We all need to change course sometimes

Twenty years ago in Sydney I traded a slap-up dinner for some priceless knowledge.

The friend I met up with, Robin, had just been on a lateral thinking course based on the principles of Edward de Bono, and — keen to learn more about how to think — I plied my friend with food and drink in return for him passing on his learning.

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Some time later I discovered that the ‘secrets’ he revealed were actually all contained in one of de Bono’s books but, hey, it was a delicious dinner (and it’s nearly always nicer to be taught in person rather than from the printed page).

I was reminded of this little experience the other day when I came across a copy of what I believe was Edward de Bono’s first book (‘The Use Of Lateral Thinking’) in a thrift store.

There’s a lovely line in it, which I have to pass on: ‘It is not possible to dig a hole in a different place by digging the same hole deeper.’

He’s talking about problem solving of course, and the desirability of thinking laterally rather than vertically, but I reckon his admonition is every bit as relevant to the juggling of emotions as it is to the tackling of challenges.

When your mood is frazzled, sometimes it’s all you can do to keep digging that hole deeper and deeper.

However there’s much to be said for pausing for breath and taking a long hard look around you.

Might that lousy mood be telling you something?

Maybe it’s suggesting that there could be a better digging location.

It’s a thought, isn’t it?

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