Visual thinking isn't just for artists

For entrepreneurs, visual thinking is an essential problem solving skill

Well known portrait of a young Phillip Glass | Chuck close ...

Philip Glass, famous composer and pianist, played verbal chess with his father as a child.

He could visualize the chess board in his mind and know what move to make. When he studied at Julliard, he found that his visual thinking skills made learning composition much easier. He could see the scores in his mind before they were placed on paper.

By thinking visually, we have a much better grasp of the problem at hand, and solutions become intuitive. Its an essential problem solving skill to have.

The act of visualization is very useful for understanding complex concepts and we often draw when the stress of work and daily life keeps us preoccupied. It's in these moments when a little mental retreat will help us recharge and put things into perspective. That's when the act of drawing (visualizing) is so important. As an entrepreneur, I've learned that drawing helps me establish structures for my business. It also helps me solve problems and better communicate with my team.

As a creative, a visual thinker will look at things differently. A visual thinker is a different kind of person. Instead of conveying ideas (ideas that often impact people tremendously) using words, a visual thinker implements his ideas in precise short hand drawings that summarize complex and otherwise indecipherable ideas. That is why i think we need to be constantly working on honing our skills as visual thinkers. We are conditioned to learn using language, we read and take notes and try to remember everything. Visual thinkers on the other hand, draw things out. While this may seem a bit counter-intuitive, for me drawing things out gives me freedom to come to logical conclusions that may otherwise be difficult.         

We all draw things from time to time, sometimes on purpose, sometimes as a form of meditation. It's important to note that these drawings should often be discarded. I've found that time and time again, my visualizations/drawings are usually wrong. This is okay. This is how we learn.         

When I meditate, I usually get a ton of ideas. Some are great, and some are out there. I sometimes jot them down or draw them out and when I do, I allow myself to be wrong.         

The act of drawing is incredibly important to becoming a better visual thinker. However, because so many business meetings happen over the phone, sometimes we aren’t able to visually communicate with our team. Its in these moments where we rely on pen and paper to convey our ideas. I've found that writing, brainstorming and drawing things out is a better way for creating a mental framework to tackle complex problems. While working with a team is great, that means that there is more noise and more opinions. So if we really want to think differently, we definitely need to establish boundaries and allow ourselves to think freely.         

So how can we become better visual thinkers? 

  1. willingness to be wrong and disallow yourself to be effected by other people's opinions(noise)

  2. meditation for idea generation

  3. keep an open mind

  4. learn your own thought processes and if you’ve set yourself up to find success

  5. express yourself visually as much as you can.

Those are just a few ways. I'll be sharing some more information with you on this topic.