The MacGyver Way to Creative Problem Solving

If you’ve never heard of MacGyver, you will soon. The 80s TV hit, about a secret agent who saved the world with a Swiss Army knife and some duct tape, is coming back in a big way, with a feature film, graphic novels and even a musical. But why will a show from the 1980s be so big in 2013?

That’s what creator Lee David Zlotoff asked when he learned there was still demand for MacGyver. Upon closer examination, he found three key reasons.

  1. MacGyver never used a gun, and thus avoided conflict. 
  2. MacGyver didn’t have fancy tools, but used his resourcefulness and ingenuity to turn what he had into what he needed.
  3. MacGyver approached all situations, no matter how frightening, with a sense of humor and humility.

These elements are particularly important now because MacGyver represents a way to deal with the environmental and social issues we face. This is best explained by the description of the MacGyver Foundation, a non-profit funded partially by the proceeds of MacGyver projects. It supports people “who utilize self-reliance, non-violence and sustainability to improve people’s lives.”

How can you use MacGyver’s example to improve your own life? By asking, “What Would MacGyver Do?” Most of all, MacGyver uses his mind to solve his problems. So Zlotoff created a new approach to problem-solving that flows from MacGyver – the MacGyver Method: Breakthroughs on Demand, or How to Out-Think Your Way Through Any Problem.

Have you ever noticed that you get your best ideas when you’re showering or driving? The MacGyver Method capitalizes on this phenomenon by teaching you how to develop an active dialogue between your conscious and subconscious.

By definition, our subconscious is outside of our normal consciousness. So we are unaware that we constantly engage in a passive dialogue between our conscious and subconscious. Since we’re generally awake 75% of the day and asleep 25% of the day,  most people assume that our conscious is 75% of our total consciousness, and our subconscious is 25% of our total consciousness.

But that’s wrong. Really wrong. While there’s no universal scientific agreement on the exact numbers or what they mean, studies show your subconscious is between 500,000 to 200 million times more powerful than your conscious. Your conscious is just an interface between the world and the superpower that is your subconscious. Your subconscious has recorded every thought you’ve ever had, every book you’ve ever read. It’s far more powerful than your conscious – if only you could access it. Now, with the MacGyver Method, you can.

1. Ask the question rightly.

To ask your subconscious a question, write it down. Then, close your eyes for a second and say to your subconscious, “This is the problem I want you to solve.” The type of problem doesn’t matter, nor does what you call your subconscious. Just direct your subconscious to solve the problem.

2. Bust out into incubation.

Incubation is the period when your subconscious, not your conscious, focuses on a problem. An incubation activity distracts your conscious mind so you don’t think about the problem, but isn’t too demanding. Don’t watch TV, read a book, or have a long conversation. While seemingly passive, these activities require enormous amounts of subconscious processing. Instead, try gardening, showering, driving, cooking, or going for a walk. Zlotoff works on models.

3. Call for the answer.

After a set period of time, ask your subconscious, “What do you have for me?” Start writing . If you draw a blank, write anything you want. Within a minute, your subconscious will start pouring out answers to your question.=

4. Do it habitually. 

Like any muscle, doing this often makes the process more nimble and fluid. The more you engage in a dialogue between your subconscious and conscious, the better the dialogue gets.

Need scientific proof? One study showed that the longer the incubation time for most people, the more answers they came up with. Another study demonstrated people who had incubation time with a low-demand activity had dramatically higher answers than those who rested or had a highly demanding activity.

In fact:

Incubation improved performance in 85 different studies.

Filling the incubation period with low-demand tasks works best.

It works best with open-ended problems with multiple possible solutions.

Want to try it? Write down an open-ended problem you’re having, and ask your subconscious about it. Now go about your day as usual, and come back tomorrow. Ask your subconscious what it has for you, and just start writing.

Did it work? Let us know in the comments, on Facebook, or Tweet us @SuperheroYou!

If you’ve never heard of MacGyver, you will soon. The 80s TV hit, about a secret agent who saved the world with a Swiss Army knife and some duct tape, is coming back in a big way, with a feature film, graphic novels and even a musical. But why will a show from the 1980s be so big in 2013?

That’s what creator Lee David Zlotoff asked when he learned there was still demand for MacGyver. Upon closer examination, he found three key reasons.

  1. MacGyver never used a gun, and thus avoided conflict. 
  2. MacGyver didn’t have fancy tools, but used his resourcefulness and ingenuity to turn what he had into what he needed.
  3. MacGyver approached all situations, no matter how frightening, with a sense of humor and humility.

These elements are particularly important now because MacGyver represents a way to deal with the environmental and social issues we face. This is best explained by the description of the MacGyver Foundation, a non-profit funded partially by the proceeds of MacGyver projects. It supports people “who utilize self-reliance, non-violence and sustainability to improve people’s lives.”

How can you use MacGyver’s example to improve your own life? By asking, “What Would MacGyver Do?” Most of all, MacGyver uses his mind to solve his problems. So Zlotoff created a new approach to problem-solving that flows from MacGyver – the MacGyver Method: Breakthroughs on Demand, or How to Out-Think Your Way Through Any Problem.

Have you ever noticed that you get your best ideas when you’re showering or driving? The MacGyver Method capitalizes on this phenomenon by teaching you how to develop an active dialogue between your conscious and subconscious.

By definition, our subconscious is outside of our normal consciousness. So we are unaware that we constantly engage in a passive dialogue between our conscious and subconscious. Since we’re generally awake 75% of the day and asleep 25% of the day,  most people assume that our conscious is 75% of our total consciousness, and our subconscious is 25% of our total consciousness.

But that’s wrong. Really wrong. While there’s no universal scientific agreement on the exact numbers or what they mean, studies show your subconscious is between 500,000 to 200 million times more powerful than your conscious. Your conscious is just an interface between the world and the superpower that is your subconscious. Your subconscious has recorded every thought you’ve ever had, every book you’ve ever read. It’s far more powerful than your conscious – if only you could access it. Now, with the MacGyver Method, you can.

1. Ask the question rightly.

To ask your subconscious a question, write it down. Then, close your eyes for a second and say to your subconscious, “This is the problem I want you to solve.” The type of problem doesn’t matter, nor does what you call your subconscious. Just direct your subconscious to solve the problem.

2. Bust out into incubation.

Incubation is the period when your subconscious, not your conscious, focuses on a problem. An incubation activity distracts your conscious mind so you don’t think about the problem, but isn’t too demanding. Don’t watch TV, read a book, or have a long conversation. While seemingly passive, these activities require enormous amounts of subconscious processing. Instead, try gardening, showering, driving, cooking, or going for a walk. Zlotoff works on models.

3. Call for the answer.

After a set period of time, ask your subconscious, “What do you have for me?” Start writing . If you draw a blank, write anything you want. Within a minute, your subconscious will start pouring out answers to your question.=

4. Do it habitually. 

Like any muscle, doing this often makes the process more nimble and fluid. The more you engage in a dialogue between your subconscious and conscious, the better the dialogue gets.

Need scientific proof? One study showed that the longer the incubation time for most people, the more answers they came up with. Another study demonstrated people who had incubation time with a low-demand activity had dramatically higher answers than those who rested or had a highly demanding activity.

In fact:

Incubation improved performance in 85 different studies.

Filling the incubation period with low-demand tasks works best.

It works best with open-ended problems with multiple possible solutions.

Want to try it? Write down an open-ended problem you’re having, and ask your subconscious about it. Now go about your day as usual, and come back tomorrow. Ask your subconscious what it has for you, and just start writing.

Did it work? Let us know in the comments, on Facebook, or Tweet us @SuperheroYou!

  • Comments

Comments

  1. Great overview of the Eureka process! Being a consummate shower thinker, we developed a waterproof notepad called AquaNotes® because an important part of the creative process is to write down Eureka ideas so they aren’t forgotten…which happens often with our subconscious ideas. Take a look at http://www.myaquanotes.com.