“Pipe-dreaming authority is the worst enemy of truth.”

ALBERT EINSTEIN

Solving the most difficult problems requires that you change the thinking that is preventing a solution—your rules. Even good rules can keep you from solving a problem. Try to draw Figure 7.2 on a sheet of paper without breaking contact between your pen or pencil and the paper. Can you do it? When first asked to do this, most people claim that it is impossible. But their own rules are what make this problem a challenge.

We use one side of a sheet of paper at a time. But to draw the figure at right without lifting your pen, you need to use both sides. Simply draw the center dot and fold a corner of the paper to the dot. Then, without lifting pen from paper, draw along the folded corner, turn ninety degrees and begin drawing your circle. As you draw, your pen will return to the front of the paper, and you will complete the figure without ever breaking contact between pen and paper. If you hadn’t been drawing on paper all your life, this would be a simple problem. Your years of excellent experience made it difficult.

The first step in rule breaking is identifying your rules. We will start with the limitations that you identified when you defined your problem. Perceived limitations are often the prime rules that keep us from solutions. Examine your list of limitations. If you listed money as a limitation, than you must have a rule that specifies that a certain amount of money is needed to solve the problem. Extract rules for each of the limitations you listed. Create a list of your rules for solving the problem. List all of your rules, especially the ones that you think can’t be broken. Rules that “can’t” be broken are at the core of most impossible problems.