Stumped by a problem? Try adopting a different perspective!

If you're faced with a seemingly intractable problem and you've tried everything you can think of to solve it creatively, perhaps you need to try a different perspective.

If you’re faced with a seemingly intractable problem and you’ve tried everything you can think of to solve it creatively, perhaps you need to try a different perspective.

If you’re like most people, you have probably focused on using brute force thinking to power your way through your current challenge, only to bounce off of a wall that is stopping you. It’s time to get creative in the ways in which you’re approaching the problem:

  • What other ways can you approach this challenge?
  • Can you consider it from the viewpoint of a famous person from history?
  • Your favorite entertainer or author?
  • Someone from another industry or profession?
  • What assumptions are you making about this challenge?
  • What if you started from a different place mentally – where would that take you?

A case in point

My youngest daughter just returned from a mission trip to West Virginia. While she was gone, I got a panicked phone call from her. It seems she was trying to do something within the menus of her digital camera, and due to a slip of a finger, she accidentally did a low-level format of its memory card, blowing away over 300 pictures. 

I assured her that I thought there was a fair chance of recovering them, as long as she used a different memory card for the rest of the trip (so the deleted images wouldn’t be overwritten). Supposedly, all a low-level format does is remove the beginning and end of file markers, which tells the camera that the sectors where these files were stored are once again available. It doesn’t actually delete the files. They HAD to be there!

When she got home, my first instinct was to do a Google search. Because recovering images, video and other files from memory cards is a huge issue for many users of digital cameras, it didn’t take long to find a free program that promised to help me recover 90 percent of the images from this SD memory card. So I downloaded and tried it. No luck. Back to Google. Another download and another recovery attempt. Same result – a big fat zero.

I was thinking about this challenge yesterday, and how I could find a software tool that would work better. I soon realized, in one of those a-ha! moments, that I was going about solving this challenge all wrong. Instead of randomly downloading recovery programs and trying them out, why not visit an online community where photographers congregate? What do the pro and semi-pro imagemeisters use to recover lost images?

So I visited one of my favorite digital camera sites, Steve’s Digicams, and did a search on “SD recovery” on its forums. That led me to a program called PhotoRec that did the trick. Interesting, it approached the process of image recovery from a different perspective than the other programs I had tried – instead of a polished Windows user interface, it was run from a DOS command line. Not very pretty, but marvelously effective.

Not only did it recover all of my daughter’s “lost” images from the mission trip, but also a huge number of deleted images from a high school band and chorus trip to Washington, DC that she took earlier this year.

So if you’re facing a seemingly impossible challenge, remember: It’s time to come at it from a new direction. Instead of trying to go through the wall that’s stopping you, look for creative ways to go around or over it, metaphorically speaking.

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