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Sideways Thinking – Guest Post by Philippe Til

While I’m on the road, here’s a guest post from my friend Philippe Til from The Actionaut.  Philippe was on my team at the RKC weekend.  He speaks great French and can do some really wild martial arts stuff.  Please enjoy the post or he’ll kick my face apart.And if you’re super desperate for my voice today, please head over to Storyfix.com to check out my guest post today.  Larry “dangling body parts” Brooks was kind enough to let me hang out over there for a while.

Philippe the unshirted

by Philippe Til

According to Wikipedia, “Lateral thinking is a term coined by Edward de Bono, for the solution of problems through an indirect and creative approach. Lateral thinking is about reasoning that is not immediately obvious and about ideas that may not be obtainable by using only traditional step-by-step logic.”

Wikipedia also offers the following definition for Oblique Strategies as “a set of published cards created by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt first published in 1975, and now in its fifth edition. Each card contains a phrase or cryptic remark which can be used to break a deadlock or dilemma situation.”

Just another Magic 8 Ball?

When my mother had asked me recently about how to purchase the deck for my youngest brother David for Christmas (as she doesn’t trust nor really understand the online ordering process), I merely dismissed it as another oracle or the equivalent of that 8-ball toy that provides you answers to such mysteries of life like “does she like me?” or “will I get that job?”

One of the deciding factors was the cost ($1400 for a new set on Amazon),though you can get one for much less on the official site.

Not having been able to visit my family in France over the recent Winter holidays, all I heard was that it poses fun questions and ways to ponder life. In my mind, it ran like the game “Scruples”. However, a recent email from my younger brother Alexandre with nothing more than a link prompting me to download the application piqued my curiosity.

Plus, it was a free download, which is about all I can afford these days (insert sob story here about losing clients as a result of the recession after having invested time and money into skill improvement and marketing courses, with the addition of our first child coming in May to a household near us –scratch that, IN our household!- while my wife is taking pre-reqs for nursing and juggling clients in the worst real estate market possible).

So I launch the app and it tells me “Don’t break the silence”.


Reload new strategy

“Consider transitions”.

I get it. Smart! (No, not me, the “card”).

Another one. “Where is the edge?”

I could keep going, but I was missing the point. Like when Bill and Ted played Death in their “Totally Bogus Journey”, I was Death asking for a rematch, best 2 out of 3, then 3 out of 5 etc.

So yesterday evening, I started entering my thoughts in my journal and decided to “add on” as that day’s Oblique Strategy commanded me to do. I started writing about adding on weight to my resistance training, adding on tasks to further my planning to get the F out of this financial and professional situation I’m in and capitalize on prospects and not screw them up (I was being positive and systematic about this)… I then realized I had followed two pieces of advice from two strategies. I “added on” and simultaneously “considered transitions”.

OK, so you do it every day. But do you? We know change is inevitable, and we avoid change. I’ve been trying to start-up a blog and have been focusing on writing relevant content in an arena crowded with successful as well as dead-in-the-water bloggers.

Repetition is a form of change

Yes, it is. You do enough reps in your workout, your body will change over time (or right away if you screw it up). You write a lot of articles, your blog grows richer in content. That’s change, right?

“Where is the edge?” keeps popping. I must not be addressing something. Gotta look deeper. I’ll let you know if I find it.

(By the way, my grandmother reads Tarot cards. And she’s really good at it.)

About the author:

When he’s not making people better at Action Fitness, “The cure for the common gym,” Philippe Til writes The Actionaut. Please go say hi on his blog or on Twitter.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Jaky Astik January 29, 2010, 1:19 am

    Interesting. Checking out his blog now. What he says is absolutely convincing.

  • Casey Brazeal (North and Clark) January 29, 2010, 8:44 am

    I love moving under the power of random chance. Even if it is a magic eight ball sometimes its easier to go with what pops up, than to point yourself toward some predetermined destiny.

    It’s DADA, and I love DADA.

  • Todd January 29, 2010, 9:39 am

    Funny that you mention your Grandmother reading tarot cards, because that’s what I thought of at first. But upon further reading, these seem like they are just meant to make you think on a deeper level. Still, $1400 is nucking futz.

  • Philippe Til January 29, 2010, 11:13 am

    @Jaky: thanks. I believe anything worth doing is worth researching, questioning, adapting and understanding. Like the commercial with the guy fixing $6 haircuts, I fix $20 trainers:)
    @Casey: Dadaism. Didn’t think of it. Love that I can learn from sharing a post! I’ll go research that! Thanks.
    @Todd: I actually have a free download on my computer, and there is an official UK website that sells the deck for a fraction (like 1/10th!) of what you can see on Amazon.

  • Amy January 29, 2010, 12:28 pm

    I do wish you had linked one of the sets at some point but I did some tracking and found them, including an online version that randomly selects a card. Woo!

    http://music.hyperreal.org/artists/brian_eno/obliques.html – has a list of any on the web or available for download
    http://music.hyperreal.org/artists/brian_eno/oblique/oblique.html – the online version that draws randomly (totally bookmarking that)
    http://www.rtqe.net/ObliqueStrategies/ – a dedicated info site
    http://www.enoshop.co.uk/ – shop where you can buy a physical deck for about $48

    Thanks for sharing this stuff, it’s very cool and I look forward to using it when I’m stuck.

  • Philippe Til January 29, 2010, 5:43 pm

    @Amy: mea culpa. When I sent the proposed guest post to Josh, I didn’t know he was going to post it so quickly, and didn’t have a chance to redraft it! (yes it’s all his fault for going off the grid). Otherwise I would have cleverly knocked some “adsense” into it:) Now, thanks to your savvy, everyone can enjoy! (posting all comments from my phone, left the house early and training clients all day, while squeezing an interview and new training location scouting). “waaahhh!” said the readers…

  • Srinivas Rao January 30, 2010, 12:00 pm


    Good to see you guest posting :). You’re officially invited to guest post at my blog as well. It’s funny because when I saw the part about repetition, it made me think about riding waves. I think the countless hours I’ve spent where what eventually changed the whole sport. You put in time, you get better. The edge is one of those things that you’ll find as you evolve as a blogger. That’s my two cents 🙂

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