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July 22, 2012

Jesse Wilkerson column: There is a solution to your problem

I ran across this exercise several years ago. If you ever have been by my office at the Mounds Mall you will see the same nine dots you see below on my door as a constant reminder of this exercise.

I enjoy puzzles and brain teasers. In this particular one the instructions are to link all 9 dots using four straight lines or fewer, without lifting the pen and without tracing the same line more than once. I used to give this to new clients to prepare them for the journey ahead when designing a new building.

Take a moment and try it here:

When I was first introduced to this puzzle I learned a lot. Once I completed it successfully (with the help and hints of my instructor), it changed the way I approached problem solving. The solution can be found online at

The objective of the exercise is to think outside the box. You have all the tools you need to be successful at completing the challenge. I also remember someone blurting out that it was impossible or that it couldn’t be done. Those few individuals who thought there wasn’t a solution quit too soon. A lot of challeges that we perceive as unsolvable are truly solvable. In fact, it turns out that the solutions are governed by our perception and a matter of our limited perspective.

Many people are faced with challenges daily. Is there a solution to the problem you are facing? Whatever the problem is there is always a solution. Some solutions cost more than others to come up with, while other solutions take more energy.

If the goal is to solve the problem, it might mean taking a step back and gaining another perspective. It might also mean thinking outside the box or the parameters that at first glance lock you into seeing things a certain way. I run across closed-minded individuals regularly.

Some people are drawn towards negativity. Their goal in life is to offer their discouraging input because, in their minds, the problem can’t be solved other than the way they see it. It has helped broaden my perspective to ask how any given solution helps meet the needs of others. There is a solution for every problem.

Jesse J Wilkerson is the owner of a local architecture and design firm in Anderson. His article appears hear every other Monday. You can reach him at


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