The Surprising Secret That Solves Your Problems Quickly: Collins Key (Transcript)

Collins Key at TEDxSantaBarbara

Full text of magician Collins Key’s talk “The surprising secret that solves your problems quickly” at TEDxSantaBarbara conference.

Listen to the MP3 Audio here: The surprising secret that solves your problems quickly by Collins Key


Collins Key – Magician

Imagine if you could take your brain and then turn it inside out. And then have access to the information to be able to solve virtually any problem.

It sounds pretty cool right? Well here’s how.

We’re going to take a look at problem solving in a very different way, one that can bring tremendous benefit to your life. And this is a technique I was first introduced to at the age of 12 when I began studying the art form of magic. And I’ve continued to develop it throughout my professional career.

And now best of all, this will be able to work for you, in your personal life, professional, or to help you create that next billion dollar idea. And in any field, sales, marketing, show business. It doesn’t matter.

Now throughout this talk I’m going to be revealing to you three core psychological principles that magicians have been using for more than 5,000 years. And all of these principles have one thing in common. They all revolve around the most important concept in magic. And that is the answer to every problem is hiding in plain sight.

So let me explain. Imagine you’re seated at a table and you’re given a problem to solve using nothing except for these items: a candle, some pushpins, and some matches.

Now you’ve got 60 seconds to figure out how to attach this candle to the wall in a way that when it’s lit, the wax will not drip down onto the table.

Okay, so some of you may be familiar with this, but for the rest of you, while you’re trying to figure this out, let me give you a little bit of history of where this came from.

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Now this is a classic test of creative problem-solving developed by the renowned psychologist Dr. Karl Duncker. And it was first published in 1945. But although this is over three-quarters of a century old, Dr. Duncker’s assessment of how our cognitive brain solves problems hasn’t really changed at all.

Again it’s back to what I said earlier. The answer to every problem is hiding in plain sight.

You see the thing is we look right at the answer but we rarely see it. And in this case most people are so consumed with how to attach the candle to the wall using tacks.

Well, the real answer is right in front of them. You guys see it, the box? Again that’s what I mean by the answer is hidden in plain sight.

And again the reason we don’t think the box is one of the solutions is because not presented to us as such, it’s locked away in our brain and positioned simply as a container for the pins. Now Dr. Duncker called this functional fixedness, the cognitive bias that limits a person to using an object only in the way that is traditionally intended.

And the same is also true of ideas and concepts. For example, this candlestick problem was presented to you simply as a creative problem-solving test when in fact it also had a secondary purpose. It contained a very important clue, one that was hiding in plain sight, which you will need to unlock another facet of your cognitive problem-solving ability.

Now the thing is you probably didn’t notice because you weren’t instructed to look for it. So right now I’m giving you a heads up. There’s going to be one more clue hidden during this talk. So pay close attention to every detail.

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