The Gordian Knot, how it relates to business and innovative thought

The Gordian Knot is a legend strongly associated with Alexander the Great. When Alexander entered the capital of Phrygia, he was confronted with the Gordian Knot. This was a knot tied so intricately and so tightly that it was deemed impossible to open and no one had ever managed to open it in many years of trying. The legend stated that whoever did untie the knot would become the King of Phrygia. By Alexander’s time the myth had been extended to mean that whoever loosened the knot would conquer all of Asia (something Alexander the Great subsequently went on to do). Initially, he failed to loosen the knot but eventually, he decided to tackle it from a different angle, unsheathing his sword and slicing it apart thus ‘opening’ the knot in a novel way.

What this story stands for is that when faced with a problem that is deemed to be impossible to solve, overcome, or navigate through, it is often our frame of reference is the issue. When you look at the problem from a different perspective, it can be solved, and in a relatively swift and seamless manner.

From a business perspective, we can often try and tackle challenges on our own or without the support and come up short. Rather than give up or give in, the answer is often to pause, consider, seek advice or to use a completely different approach and thus get the result we need. Try and approach challenges in innovative and novel ways and you can often get the result you need. Now, more than ever in our lifetimes do we need to engage our challenges and overcome them in revolutionary ways.

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