Leveraging New Ways of Doing Things in form of a Loan
A wealthy woman goes into a New York City bank to ask for a loan.
She tells the loan officer that she’s going on vacation and needs to borrow $5,000.
“Well,” says the banker, “do you have anything you can use as collateral?”
“Yes, I do,” the woman replies. “I’ll use my Rolls-Royce.”
“You mean you want to put up a $250,000 Rolls-Royce as collateral for a $5,000 loan?” asks the stunned banker.
The woman nods and hands over the keys. The loan officer can’t believe she’s for real, so he has an associate check her credentials to make sure she’s the legitimate owner.
Sure enough, everything checks out, so the banker parks the luxury car in the bank’s underground garage and writes her a check for $5,000.
Two weeks later the woman comes back from vacation and immediately goes to the bank, where she pays off the $5,000 loan—along with $15.41 in interest.
The loan officer takes the money, and as he’s handing her the keys, he says, “Miss, we’re glad to have your business, but we’re puzzled. We did some research and found out you’re a multimillionaire. So why would you need to borrow $5,000?”
The woman smiles and replies, “Where else in New York City could I park my car for two weeks for only $15.41 and expect it to be there when I return?”
“Anyone can do it the conventional way” was one of our father’s favorite lessons. He insisted that there are solutions to any problem—often simple ones, at that—which no one has tried yet.
So if you approach problem-solving with an open mind, and without preconceived ideas about what the solution ought to be, you can come up with some pretty impressive results.
BEYOND THE PUNCH LINE
Here are a few tricks to help you look “outside the box” for solutions:
- Make it someone else’s problem. Studies indicate that we tend to be more creative when we’re solving other people’s problems than when we’re trying to solve our own. So imagine yourself giving advice to a friend with the same problem.
- Turn the problem upside down. Look at it from a completely different point of view. Try literally turning your paper upside down or studying an object or a plan from a different angle. Imagine that a minor result is actually your goal. This kind of thinking can help you to see details or patterns you might otherwise miss, which may help you find a solution.
- Study the problem, not the solution. Take the time to really understand the problem, and the solutions may become clearer. Albert Einstein said: “If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the answer, I would spend the first fifty-five minutes figuring out the proper questions to ask. For if I knew the proper questions, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.”
- Reverse the process. Start with the solution you’re hoping for and work backward to where you are now, step by step. According to one expert, “This forces the brain to think in a different way. The brain is almost always more active when it comes to novel stimuli and information.”
- And if all else fails, ask a kid. If the problem is something a child can understand, ask them how they would solve the problem. Even if you don’t get a viable answer, a child’s unconventional thinking may prod you into seeing a solution that you wouldn’t have thought of yourself.