What Peeling A Banana Can Teach You About Thinking Creatively


Jul 31, 2012 - by Joe Nafziger
What Peeling A Banana Can Teach You About Thinking Creatively

I've been eating bananas since I was a wee babe, and peeling them almost as long (baby fingers aren't quite nimble enough). It wasn't until I saw this video that I realized I was taking a basic skill at face value.

The Internet says this is how monkeys peel bananas, but when I share this knowledge nugget with others, virtually no one has tried peeling a banana this way. We’re supposed to be smarter than our fuzzy cousins.

Have you tried opening a banana from the “wrong” end? It's foolproof. No pulling, smashing, bending, biting. It just works. Fair warning, when you peel this way, there is a dark little nub that is not present on the stem/tab end. I don't eat the nub, but I'm sure it's edible. I’m a bit particular about bananas—don't get their "strings" near me.

Thinking Backwards

Just like peeling a banana from the other end, some of your best ideas come from thinking about your brand, business, company or client in the complete opposite of what’s traditional.

When you need to generate some new ideas, try writing down as many of the WRONG ones as you can think of. What's the last thing you’d imagine a product could do for someone? What if the entrance to the store was turned into the exit, and vice versa? What if a car’s wheels were on the roof? (This is a very poor example, but you get where I’m going.)

The exact solution might not end up on your list, but the wrong ones get your brain playing in the places and spaces that generate fresh perceptions. Now you have some fodder for new ways to engage people and strengthen your message.

As a kid, I remember getting bored with the same sleeping position each night. I tried sleeping "upside down." By that I mean my feet were at the headboard and my head at the foot of the bed.

It was fun. Suddenly, the window was on my right instead of left. And while I couldn't see the bedroom door anymore, I could look at my Lamborghini Countach poster that I got during the school book fair. It took me longer to fall asleep that night, because I was so excited.

[Note: The smallest things were exciting back then. I grew up on a farm, 12 miles outside of Normal, Illinois (the town's actual name). There was not much to do besides work in the cornfields, or pick up sticks.]

Sleeping upside down got me thinking about new ways to arrange my room. The following weekend, I shuffled the furniture around which opened up even more space for activities in case a friend came over.

The banana trick—and upside-down sleeping—are both dead-simple examples of thinking backwards about something supposedly mundane. How can you apply this to the ways you approach your brand, your job, how you lie in your bed, etc.?

Don't assume the way you're doing something is the only way to do it. Sure, chances are, you’re right in your thoughts, but taking a minute to peel from the other end can you get you to an entirely new way of thinking.


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