A very simple story illustrating how sometimes taking a step back and moving the attention elsewhere can provide effective solutions to seemingly complex problems. As we continue to face increasingly complex problems, creating a conducive environment for our mind to look to at the problems & solutions differently becomes necessary. This story is a very simple, but effective illustration of that.

There was a very rich person once. Among his many valuable possessions, there was a very costly watch. The rich person considered the watch to be very lucky for him. He used to wear it for special occasions. Once, he was to attend a very prestigious business function and decided to wear the same watch. However, when he was getting ready, he couldn’t find the watch anywhere. He asked his wife and kids and they tried to look everywhere, but couldn’t find the watch. Getting impatient, the rich man called his servants to go through the entire house but just couldn’t find the watch. Everybody started panicking and the scene became very chaotic.

The youngest daughter of the rich man though was wise beyond years. She ultimately decided to take charge. She told everyone to keep quiet for some time and go back to their work. She asked her father to forget about the watch for some time and continue getting prepared. She also got herself engaged in something else for awhile.

As everybody dispersed, there was peace and silence. And suddenly, the young girl thought of something. She started going through each room in the house. She used to get in the room, ask everyone to move out if the room was occupied, close the door and spend some time inside. When people asked her what she was doing, she simply asked them to keep quiet for some time and not make any noise.

After searching many rooms in the big house, she came out of the one room with the watch in her hand. Everybody was relieved and the rich man was very happy that his favorite watch was finally found. When they asked her how she found the watch, she explained what happened.

After she asked everyone to get on with their work and got to her room, she became suddenly aware that she could hear the sound of her wall-clock ticking because everything else was silent. There was no other noise, no distractions. And in that ticking sound, the young girl could find a solution to her problems. She went from room to room, tried to recreate the silence, listened for the ticking sound coming from watches & clocks, and searched for the source of that ticking. Then, it was only a matter of time till the watch was found.

When we step a little bit aside from the problem, we activate what is referred to as a “Diffused state of mind” in the book “Learning how to learn”. This diffused mode allows us to make connections between what our brain has stored since our childhood. It sort of frees the mind of its boundaries imposed by current problems, and allows us to find a creative solution, This is the reason why modern successful organizations create workplaces where team members can alternate between focused & diffused state of minds, thereby generating creative solutions to complex problems.