Thinking about how to think

A few weeks back, a friend of mine sent me this picture and asked me to solve the problem. After 5 minutes of looking at the problem up and down I lost my mind. “HOW THE F**K CAN YOU SOLVE THIS THING?”, I thought to myself. Finally the answer hit me; it was right in front of my face. I went back and presented my answer to my friend and he was astonished. He himself didn’t get the answer nor did he find anyone who knew the answer. I like my friend sent the picture to a few friends of mine and challenged them to solve it. None of them, who are all very intelligent individuals, could solve it. I gave them the answer and they were astonished as well.

Now, before I reveal the answer, I challenge you, the reader, to solve this math equation. Follow the rules given and attempt it yourself. For those of you who want to see if you are correct, the answer is at the bottom of this article.


Nowadays, we often acclaim people who have superior intelligence. I believe this is a fallacy. Often, the most intelligent people aren’t always the most successful. Take Christopher Hirata for example. I’m guessing you’ve never heard of him. Hirata has an IQ of 225. However, he’s not the richest man on the planet, nor has he done anything so newsworthy that the general populous knows about him; he is a professor at Ohio State University (one look at Hirata’s LinkedIn profile will give you that information). Then take Bill Gates, a widely known entrepreneur and businessman. If you haven’t heard of him, I suggest getting out of that rock you’ve been living under. Bill Gates has a net worth of 79.2 billion dollars as of April 2016 and is quite well-known through his company of Microsoft and constant philanthropic efforts. While Gates’ reported IQ is 160, much lower than that of Hirata, he can be viewed as much more successful.

Now what does this have to thinking differently. We incorrectly applaud intelligence when we should be applauding creativity and thinking differently. Thinking differently, especially in an age when you can innovate something in your own bedroom, is a much better marker of success. It is thinking differently that spurred the cotton gin, the steam engine and even the personal computer. Relating it back to the math problem I presented with you earlier, it is by thinking in a nonconforming way that I was able to get the answer.

Now, I’m not saying that I’ll become successful in the future simply since I thought differently when it came to this math problem. What I am saying, however, is that when it comes to thinking differently, you don’t need a high IQ to do so. While some people are innately rebellious and others strive to conform to society, we all can think differently.

As an old quote says, “Great quotes do not come from great people. They come from ordinary people who think differently.”

Answer: 10001–100²=1

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