We are socialized to think and act a certain way. And, we often put self-imposed barriers around ourselves, which constrains our thinking and how much we can achieve in life. We learn to travel the path of least resistance, instead of the road less travelled. Yet we wonder why our results in life are mediocre. To break free, we have to start making small changes, simple shifts in our mindset. We have to think without borders and make connections, even when there appears to be no connections.

How to think without borders

Let us take the following quote by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

When I think of the Martin Luther King quote, I think that I am my brother's keeper, and that my actions will impact others. I also think that we are all connected, which leads my mind to the Butterfly Effect, a concept where a butterfly flapping its wings in one region, could trigger a tornado (or some other act) in another region.

My mind then roams to The Hundredth Monkey principle, where after a certain point, new information (or learned behaviour) introduced, ceases to be new and is in the collective consciousness.

Where would your mind take you if you started to think without borders? What products ideas would seep into your consciousness if you started to think without borders? The possibilities are endless.

While reviewing information on the greatest inventions and discoveries that helped to shape the world, I became fascinated with Otto Lilienthal. Lilienthal, the King of Gliders studied birds in flight to understand human flight. The Wright Brothers: Orville and Wilbur Wright who invented the airplane, studied Lilienthal’s research papers because they believed they could improve his designs, as well as correct the weaknesses in aviation theory. The Wright Brothers had also observed birds in flight to understand how they restored their balance.

A case of exploration

To further explore the notion of thinking without borders I decided to read Practical Experiments for the Development of Human Flight by Otto Lilienthal. Here is what I discovered which is relevant to all.

  • Most inventions are perfected over time (practice makes perfect)
  • Success often comes after experimentation: trial and error (we learn from our mistakes)
  • Break down goals into bite-size pieces (little successes build on each other to become a huge success)
  • Practical experience is equally, or more important that theoretical experience (TEST, TEST, TEST)
  • Take calculated risks to mitigate losses (the bigger the risk the greater the reward)
  • Technologies of tomorrow will improve inventions of today

Connecting the dots when there are no dots

Connecting Dr. Martin Luther King’s quote with Otto Lilienthal’s article, I connected the dots when there were no dots:

  • No one succeeds alone, we all need a helping hand
  • When one of us rises all of us rises, so we need to help others
  • We have to test our ideas to make sure they are sound
  • We have to tell others about what we are doing so that they can build on it to further humanity
  • Nature can be our teacher and our guide

How do you step beyond the boundaries? Have you ever read an article that is not within your area of specialty simply to get a different perspective? Have you ever looked to other industries to identify processes and methods that you can use to solve challenges and problems?

To be uber successful requires thinking without borders and connecting the dots when there are not dots. But to do so, reading widely is a requirement to establish a base to build on. Start off with Dr. King’s quote and then read Lilienthal’s articles to see where you end up. And try to connect the information to a project that you are working on.

Author's Bio: 

Avil Beckford, Chief Invisible Mentor, writer and researcher with over 15 years of experience is the published author of Tales of People Who Get It and its companion workbook Journey to Getting It. Subscribe to the Invisible Mentor Blog http://theinvisiblementor.com for great information to ignite your hidden genius, and explore the Resources page for free white papers and an e-book.