When it comes to problem solving capabilities, Dr. Gregory House is the best. Forget that he is a fictional character for the moment.
What is it that makes him so good at dealing with tough cases?
“It’s a basic truth of the human condition that everybody lies. The only variable is about what.”
We know that a part of his ability to solve the difficult problems he encounters is his ability to not take bullshit from his patients. His way may not win him friends, but he has a knack for handling people in a way that is conducive to healing them.
This is not what we’re interested in at the moment, though. We want to know what is going on inside of his mind.
What is he thinking?
Each Episode’s Problem
The episode’s of House usually start out with something exciting happening. A healthy student collapses during a speech. Multiple people get sick at the same moment. A person instantly loses the ability to move their hands.
Each episode has a specific problem that the episode is centered around.
Sure there are side-stories going on, such as his relationship with his friend Wilson and the strange romantic relationship he has with Cuddy, but mostly these take a backseat to the problem that must be solved.
House is Obsessive
Only being interested in the most interesting cases, House seems to get them all the time. He cares about them because they are novel, they mean something more interesting than the common cold.
He is obsessed with these novel cases. They are an intense curiosity to him.
Because of this, they are always in the back of his mind.
Think of a major problem in your life. Chances are you either were or are constantly worrying about that problem. It walks alongside you each day. Every conversation is reflected according to that problem. It is on your mind at all times.
This is what each episode’s problem is like to House. Everything is centered around the problem, that curiosity.
House is Imaginative
Each episode focuses on a specific problem and House obsesses over that problem in some way. Because of this, whenever he is chatting or doing unrelated things, his mind always has that problem there, waiting to be solved.
In many episodes, House has some sort of eureka moment, a serendipitous response to something he heard someone or himself say.
How can this happen?
Since House constantly has a problem on his mind, the incoming information he receives is always reflected on in accordance with that problem.
Writing for this website, I am constantly trying to come up with ideas. Conversations I have are thought of in the context of how they could be good articles. Movies I watch are centerpieces for thinking about writing. In fact, as you can probably guess, I got the idea for writing this article after watching an episode of House.
The main problem we are trying to solve gets reflected on in accordance with all of the incoming information we are receiving.
What is the lesson here? How can we think like House on a regular basis?
1.) Have a problem that needs to be solved. Remember, each episode had its own focus. Find your focus, if at least for the moment. House’s problems only last for an hour. Don’t think yours has to be a lifelong one.
2.) Care about that problem. There are many things we think we care to solve, but they don’t mean that much. The problem must be something that truly matters to you. House has a natural curiosity for novel and interesting problems. Have a passion for solving new and interesting things.
3.) “Obsess” over that problem. Let the problem be in your mind all day. Take in information in accordance with that problem. The information will not just be something that you hear and remember. It will be something that matters to you in a context. It will be the ammo you need to solve a significant problem in your life.
There are problems within our lives that we are extremely interested in solving. Sometimes, in order to solve them, you need to think of them from a different angle. You have to see them from a different perspective.
Keeping the problem in the back of our mind while taking in new information allows that problem to be illuminated. It allows us to have an imagination that is conducive to taking care of our business in a meaningful fashion.