Apples sorting story

Here is an interesting story from “deBono’s Thinking Course” book:

A French farmer goes off to market in the morning. He asks his two sons to sort a huge pile of apples into big apples and small apples while he is gone.

They work all day to do this, carefully assessing whether a particular apple is big or small. The farmer returns and mixes both piles of apples together again.

The sons are furious at having wasted their time. But the farmer points out that real object of the exercise was to get ‘full attention’ paid to the apples that the bad ones would be thrown out – as indeed they have been.

The ‘big verses small’ discrimination requires much more careful scrutiny than just looking for the bad apples.

Here are two simple ‘hacks’ from my experience:

  1. When I was learning my first computer programming language, I had to type all code examples from book to try them out. Copy/paste was not available at that time. I still do the same even though I can copy/paste now. This makes learning a new language quite easier for me.
  2. While reading a new book, I use a yellow highlighting marker to highlight the interesting/important paragraphs. This forces me to concentrate and find the interesting/important points. This also makes reviewing the book much easier.

What are your attention directing/focusing ‘hacks’? Please share.


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