Here is a question.
Do you sometimes have difficulty remembering people’s names
but you’re greater remembering their faces?
Or maybe you’re really good at moving odd shaped furniture around corners,
or packing your car full with so much stuff everyone told you it was going to be impossible.
If so, you might just be a visual thinker.
How about this？
Try and remember an event from your past.
Do you find yourself remembering something fuzzy
like the significance or emotion or mood around that event?
Or do you remember specific scenes and images?
For some people, it turns out that
images and spatial relationships seem to dominate their thinking process.
Basically, they think in pictures.
It’s thought that upwards of 60 percent of people are in this category,
and it’s a continuum, not all or none,
some people just think this way more than others.
比如 对有些人来说 可能对你来说也是这样
For example, for some people, and this might be you,
a messy desk isn’t the problem at all.
You know where everything is,
but you know where it is in relation to everything else.
So when someone comes along and cleans that desk up,
supposedly helping you organize,
you completely feel lost and you can’t find anything.
The same sort of spatial thinking that helps you navigate a messy desk
can be incredibly powerful.
The chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer said that
he could see all of the pieces on the chessboard
even when it wasn’t in front of him,
which allowed him to practice and play in his head.
Nikola Tesla, a pretty amazing inventor, took this one step further,
and said he was able to build and rebuild complicated machines in his mind,
and then run them to see where the moving parts could potentially fail.
When he was only 24 years old,
the inventor Thomas Edison described his experience this way,
“I have innumerable machines in my mind now,
which I shall continue to illustrate and describe day by day
when I have the spare time.”
But this kind of thinking, visual thinking, sometimes comes with a price.
Namely, it can be hard to communicate what you’re thinking to other people.
Maybe you’ve had this experience
where you see something pretty clearly in your head
but you wind up needing to draw it to explain it to someone else.
Albert Einstein often said
words failed him to describe the images in his head.
But it turned out those images were the key to unlocking the secrets of the universe.
It was after he envisioned a man riding a wave of light
that he was able to construct his Theory Of Relativity.
James Clerk Maxwell, the mathematical physicist had a similar experience.
His colleagues urged him to show the relationship
between energy, entropy and volume using equations,
which is how they best communicated ideas.
Instead, he used clay and plaster to show the relationship
in the way that he understood it,
as a physical and visual form of thermodynamics.
And that’s the power of visual metaphors.
They allow people to see complex relationships in new relatively simple ways.
And the history of invention and discovery is filled with those kind of stories.
For example, August Kekulé unlocked
a new way of thinking about the structure of molecules
when he envisioned a snake eating its own tail.
In that moment, he realized that
the bonds in the molecule benzene formed a ring.
And this led to a whole new way of
understanding how molecules could be visualized.
And that’s ultimately the challenge that visual thinkers face.
How do you get those images out of your head and into the real world,
as inventions or discoveries?
It’s also why right now is such an exciting time for people who think like this.
The digital age has brought technology
that allows visual thinkers to directly experiment with the forms
that they’re best at understanding.
Visual thinkers can now fold complex proteins on the screen
or use 3D printers to build almost any form they can imagine.
And they can invent and play in virtual reality spaces
that just couldn’t exist in the real world.
It’s a good time to be a visual thinker.
So next time you forget the names of streets
on a route that you can navigate with ease,
don’t beat yourself up,
you might just be the next genius and inventor of our time.
What kind of inventor are you?
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