Creative Thinking in the Fast Lane

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here’s an idea to help reboot your thinking machine. Reading time: 2:33

Powering Down your digestive system
Powering Down your digestive system

            Sick and tired of being sick and tired, Henry Tanner figured he would starve himself to death.

           As a medical doctor, he couldn’t bear the thought of committing suicide.  So he would just stop eating and in 10 days he would be dead; his pain even deader.

           At least that’s what all the medical literature in 1877 said:  a human could live about 10 days without food.

           But then Dr. Tanner taught us all a keen lesson in creativity in particular and leadership in general: Don’t assume anything.

           Starving himself as planned, Dr. Tanner was amazed that he was still alive –two days AFTER he was supposed to have starved to death.

         That day, on day 12,  he was even more amazed that the pain from his asthma and rheumatism had diminished. He continued to fast for a total of 42 days– a full month and two days beyond the time he was supposed to starve to death.

         During those six weeks, of fasting, his rheumatism and asthma –labeled hopeless by seven other physicians — was gone. He felt great. And he went on to live another 40 years. In the fast lane.

             The leadership lesson here is clear. Leaders challenge their assumptions no matter how logical.  And it seemed very logical to think hunger pains would exacerbate your hunger and become even more painful the longer you fasted, the longer you went without food.

              That’s why Tennessee Williams, the playwright of Streetcar Named Desire fame, was astonished when he felt no hunger after the third day of his fast. Continue reading “Creative Thinking in the Fast Lane”