Do you search for ideas with a spotlight or a lantern?

To an adult it’s a cardboard box for packing books. But to a child it’s a car, a giant’s hat, a king’s table… As we get older and gain more experience as adults, this experience affects how we look at the world. Hence a cardboard box tends to be just for packaging, as from experience that is the main use we have seen for it.

This has an effect on how adults search for ideas. In a recent TED Talk this was described as the ‘spotlight’ or the ‘lantern’ of consciousness.

This talk highlights that adults have a very focused, purpose-driven, ‘spotlight’ kind of attention. Young children and babies don’t have the ability to focus yet. They can’t get rid of all the interesting things that could tell them something and just look at the important thing – their ‘lantern’ of attention lights up many things.

When we are searching for ideas, starting out with a ‘lantern’ and then using the ‘spotlight’ is an effective process.

How can adults regain their ‘lantern of consciousness’? It’s suggested in the TED Talk that one way of doing this is to put yourself in a completely new situation. Perhaps you could learn a new skill, a new and completely different language – maybe with a different alphabet, or visit a new city without a guidebook or map.

How will you light up your lantern?



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