There is an ancient tale from Hindu mythology that illustrates lateral thinking (also known as – “out of the box” thinking) that I would like to share –
One day Lord Siva and His consort Parvati were sitting atop their abode on Mt. Kailash with their sons Ganesha and Karthikeyan when the sage Narada dropped by for a visit. Narada had with him a special mango of knowledge, to offer to Siva. After accepting the mango from Narada, Siva and Parvati decided to have a contest between their sons.
The first one who circumnavigates the world three times would get to the mango of knowledge. Without further ado Karthikeyan jumped on his peacock and started off. Ganesha on the other hand was busy eating his favorite ladoos and decided to finish them first. Karthikeyan had completed two rounds by the time Ganesha finally got ready to compete :-)
Ganesha simply approached Siva and Parvati and deliberately walked around them – He circled them once, twice and three times and then claimed the mango.
When, Siva and Parvati asked him how he could claim the mango when he had not circled the world even once – Ganesha replied – “You both are my world”. Delighted by the answer Siva and Parvati gave Ganesha the mango, which he immediately gobbled up with relish.
Two of the important traits of good software developers are “enlightened laziness” and “Out of the box” thinking. This tale is an example of both enlightened laziness and out of the box thinking – confronted by the immense task of circumnavigating the world – Ganesha – by simply thinking a little and restating the problem comprehensively defeated his brother Karthikeyan.
So, my eager friends – the ones who are chomping at the bit after the initial presentation of a project – eager to rush into coding it, please spend some time contemplating your problem. Another, homily you might want to consider is – “Think twice, code once” – You, might just save yourself a LOT of time and effort !! :-)
Both Brothers are winners. Ganesha represents the spirituality while Murugan his brother represents the material or physical world. The core of the universe is spiritual and full of energy to sustain the universe. Ganesha went round it….Siva and Parvathi..both the creator. Murugan went round His creation. His circumbulation of the universe magnetises His creation and thus sustains it. Without such a circumbulation the entire universe collapsed. If the earth were to stop rotating for a second, there will be destruction instantly. So both circumbulations by Ganesh and murugan are appropriate and there are no losers. One is the negative while the other is positive. Both must coexist.
There are quite a few variations to the story – in some cases the prize was different and in some cases the reward was shared. My point (and I believe the moral of the story) however, was the approach taken by Ganesh to solve the problem… So please forgive any inaccuracy in the story :-)