Seems counterintuitive- let’s try it.

In 2009 I supported a lady to her first ever iron man.

She was overwhelmed by her triathlon clubs 20 hour per week schedule while also balancing a career as a solicitor.

I created a new programme for her of 8-11 hours per week for 12 weeks.

She was the first amateur woman to cross the finish line.

I thought at the time that this was maverick behaviour. I had combined up to date research and discovered a system others had missed.

Then I discovered two books and a gym with a dedicated website specialising in reduced time triathlon training.

Is it extensive trial and error that leads to the creation of the incumbent system or is it a series of seemingly common sense beliefs?

In all likelihood it’s the latter. People rarely find a system that does the job and then deviate far from that system in order to improve on it.

Diets are created on the false belief that the cause of excess body fat is gluttony and sloth.

This belief requires there to be no exceptions to this rule. Those with excess fat must both eat more than and move less than all those with less body fat.

It would take little more than a short visit to a university campus to disprove this theory completely.

Speak with a body builder in a cutting phase and you’ll discover that their greatest challenge is eating enough protein.

Truth is only truth if we cannot come up with any evidence to support the opposite.

When we start to routinely seek and test the opposites of our common sense beliefs we start to see that very few of our beliefs are actually facts. We aren’t so much held back by what’s possible but by what we believe is possible and our beliefs are very often wrong or just simply unhelpful.

Our limitations exist mostly in our minds. We too easily assume the way it is done is based on best practise.

Systems are often underpinned by false beliefs or designed to serve purposes that are no longer required.

The education system was originally designed to create compliant factory workers. We now have possibly the worst environment for learning that a human could think of underpinned most of our education system.

The 9 to 5 standard working day was based on the same thing which leads to a whole load of work being done that simply doesn’t need doing in order to fill the time window.

Counterintuitive thinking can help us to see the world very differently very quickly and in some cases quickly remove struggles that we have had our whole lives due to theories disguised as facts.

So how to we cultivate counterintuitive thinking?

My preferred system is a pen and paper and a few simple questions.

  1. What is the challenge?
  2. What is the conventional system for overcoming this challenge?
  3. What is the history of this system and is it still relevant?
  4. What beliefs support this system and what evidence supports this belief?
  5. Can I come up with evidence to support the opposite?
  6. Are there any cases of people doing the opposite successfully?
  7. What new, fun and easy to measure test could I run for 30 days without causing any problems that couldn’t quickly be resolved?

The measurable test is where the magic happens. It’s seeing a different world that most opens us up to consistently challenging our assumptions and creating the life we want.