People often criticise me for saying something, then they find a situation where it didn’t work.

Yup, that’ll happen.

That’s why we have a brain.

If we could find one thing that worked always, in every situation, we wouldn’t need a brain, we’d be robots.

Switch on the button and the machine does it automatically.

Same thing every time, no need to think.

In eastern philosophy that’s called ‘mind’.

The mind is lazy, it doesn’t want to think, it wants to go on autopilot.

It wants a formula.

Because formulas are less work.

Formulas don’t involve thinking.

Formulas mean we never have to question anything, never have to use our brain.

Never have to think for ourselves.

But as Bill Bernbach said “Principles endure, formulas don’t.”

That’s why the mentally agile have a huge advantage.

They can think for themselves, which means they can out think other people.

Not just kneejerk into formulaic thinking.

So I tend to assume bright people have brains and want to use them.

So anything I say comes from that context.

All I’m doing is letting you in on a good tip.

But it’s up to you to work out how and when to use it.

I assume you’ve got lots of other good tips too.

In fact, I assume your brain is a collection of good tips, and you’ll select the right one for the right situation.

Just like the gearbox in a car.

Let me give you an analogy.

I might say “What works really well on a motorway is to put the car in top gear and put your foot down.”

Then someone says to me “I tried that and it didn’t work, I got stuck.”

And I say “Stuck. You got stuck on a motorway?”

They say “No, on a muddy hill in the country.”

Well duh.

Then I say “Foot down in top gear won’t work on a muddy hill. You need to go very slowly in bottom gear for that.”

And they say “But you said go really fast in top gear. So what you said doesn’t work.”

And I’m thinking “It does. But not on a muddy hill, or a bend, or a crowded street, or backing out of the garage, plonker.”

See one answer won’t work in all situations, at all times.

I assume we all know that.

I assume a basic level of common sense on the part of the person I’m talking to.

I assume some things are so obvious I don’t need to mention them.

Of course, even the obvious can be questioned.

That’s what being creative is.

To question the things other people don’t question.

To find original, surprising ways round a problem.

But the point is, you have to question it.

Not just ignore it and steam ahead using a formula you learned.

That’s not using your brain.

That’s not being creative.

In fact that’s just the opposite.

That’s going on autopilot.

That’s sleepwalking.

And that’s not how you drive a car.

The brain is like a manual gearbox.

You have to look at the situation and choose the right gear.

The brain won’t do that for you.


It’s not an automatic.