Sunday, August 23, 2009

Thinking in Pictures – to Achieve Goals

Dr. Temple Grandin thinks like a cow. An amazing individual, she is not only Doctor of Animal Science at Colorado State University, best-selling author and animal advocate and activist, she’s intrinsically autistic.[1] In that, she’s typically bored in relationships and interactions, but not with animals, which primarily think, like her, in pictures.

This type of thinking is deeply rooted in the “now.” It’s deeply corporeal—relying on the very real and seen external stimuli. Dogs and cats, cows and pigs and other animals don’t think in affective ways like we do. This is a replicator for the extreme end of Myers-Briggs ‘sensing’ personality preference—to the utter rejection of the ‘intuitive’ mind, or the ability to intuit the deeper tones of relational rapport i.e. affinity with others.

And there’s something quite inherently admirable about such focus in one human mind to leave out ‘the possible’ in seeking the absolute seen reality.

Autistics are notoriously staid in their thinking, able not only to focus incredibly deeply, they’re actually not able not to. Change-resistance is part of their world, perhaps to their detriment, but one feature that’s incredibly endearing is their unbending passion, and this is something that Dr. Grandin has used throughout her career.

Perhaps one of the positive aspects of an autistic personality (if it can be harnessed and developed) is the capacity to achieve or perform at a zenith of human ability in one, or perhaps only a few, very focused pastimes.

We can imagine being so focused on a task, to the exclusion of distracting stimuli, that we give it such attention that the result created is basically perfect. Of course, it works best with mechanised tasks not requiring a high degree of relational perception or control.

There are times—many times, in fact—when the heat is on us to produce or deliver upon agreed objectives. Learning to think in pictures to the exclusion of our feelings is an incredible situational lever to pull upon occasionally in the management of our lives.

[1] Dr. Grandin has high-functioning autistim.

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