Dancing in the Rain



Editor’s note: This is a guest post from bestselling author, Michael Michalko. 

Michael’s super skill is creative thinking. 

In fact, he organized a team of intelligence specialists to research, collect, and categorize all known inventive-thinking methods. 

One of my favorite books by Michael is Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative-Thinking Techniques (2nd Edition), which is listed by 800-CEO-READ as one of the best business books of all time.

Without further ado, here’s Michael on, Dancing in the Rain …

To the right is a drawing.  What does it look like to you?

If you said frog, you were right.

However, if you said horse, you were also right.

Can you see the horse?  (Hint: Tilt your head to the right.)

We See Things as We Are

We see different things in the lines and shapes of the drawing depending on how we look at the drawing.

In a way, it is the same in the real world where we don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.

If you are a happy person, the world is a joyful place.

If you are a sad person, the world is a place of despair.

Two Men: A Paralytic and a Man with a Terrible Lung Disease

A few years back, two men, a paralytic and a man with a terrible lung disease, were confined to a hospital room.

Each day, the medical staff would help the man with the lung disease sit up for an hour and, during that time, he would gaze out the window and describe what he saw to his paralyzed roommate whose bed was on the side of the room away from the window.

One Saw Birds, Clouds, and Children at Play

He’d describe children running and playing, a father walking with his child, a bluebird in a tree across the way, how the wind moved the clouds, how the rain washed the sidewalks and roads clean, and two little boys playing catch.

His descriptions gave the paralyzed man a sense of hope, a will to live.

The Other Saw a Wall

One day, the man with the lung disease died.  The paralyzed man asked to be moved close to the window and, when the nurses obliged, asked them to help him sit up so he could see out.  Again the nurses obliged, but all that could be seen from the window was a wall.

Shocked, the paralyzed man told the nurses about the wonderful things his former roommate had described and about how those descriptions had given him hope.

The World is Largely in Your Mind

The nurses were a little shook up by this and told the paralyzed man something he didn’t know about his roommate.

“He was blind,” they said.

The point is, the world is largely in your mind.

It’s how you think, how you dream, that determines how you see and perceive things.  Life is not about waiting for storms to pass, it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.


  1. Hi Michael,

    I’ve read this story before, but it was well worth reading again. It’s a great reminder how we all see life and the world differently. My hope is that I can be like the blind man and always see beauty in all that surrounds me.

    Thank you J.D. for introducing us to Michael. It was a real pleasure meeting him and reading his great words.

  2. This morning i drove to a customer and it was rainy. I liked it since it reminds what warm is all about. Many hate rain since it is cold. To me, cold rain reminded me about the warm home. I plugged in and read this post. Boom, LOA? 🙂

  3. Hi Michael,
    What a powerful example of just how beautifully the mind can be! There’s so much to how we perceive things, and how that can affect us. And this story is such a great example of that!

  4. Hi Michael and JD .. certainly it’s a very good story – what we see is what we reap. The shock of the blank wall .. and then the wondering .. we can give and create for so many.

    I love that story & thanks for bringing it to my attention again ..

    Hilary Melton-Butcher
    Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

  5. Awesome guest post, Michael! This is a really great example and I’m so glad you shared it with us here. 🙂

  6. What a poignant post! This reminds me of a friend of ours whom my lovely bride & I befriended. We met on a street corner where he peddled his goods every day. We hooked him up with a computer & he started a foundation through which he lectured to children all over the state on the wicked ways of drug abuse (the reason for his blindness). It was always amazing to me how unfailingly beautiful his attitude was, able always to reframe his circumstances in a positive, constructive light. Steve died a few weeks ago, but he lives on not only in the minds of the children to whom he spoke—who knows how many futures he’s helped?—but also we are privileged to now have his guide dog, Stella, now retired.

    J.D., thanks for introducing us to Michael. Michael, thank you for your lovely story, a reminder to us all that our world is what we make it. Indeed, this is one of my favorite quotes. It’s at the bottom of my Vision Statement so I read it each-&-every day:

    We are what we think.
    All that we are arises in our mind.
    With our thoughts we make our world.

  7. Great stuff. Like they say “beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder”. Excellent post. A great start to my morning. Owe you (and JD ofcorse) one.


  8. Hi Jimmy May .. yours is the poignant post too – what an amazing man Steve must have been … such an exemplar to the kids – and I’m sure he made loads of difference to their lives – and now ours through you ..

    Thank you – and thanks JD too!
    Hilary Melton-Butcher
    Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

  9. Oh Michael I just love that story! I heard a similar version of it a while back and it gripped at my heart instantly and really made feel how much the world that we see is in our perception of things.

    We can truly make the world and see the world, the way we choose. And of course what a magnificent gift the man gave to the paralyzed man….sometimes we don’t realize how much hope we can offer another, just by showing them a different way to see the world.

    J.D. – thanks for the great guest author!

  10. Thanks for a great post. I strongly believe in the power of how we perceive the world around us. Even at the most basic level we know that our brains construct most of what we we see, hear and smell based on the limited and ‘noisy’ signals that come from our senses. The amount of filtering and reconstruction that occurs just to see the simple every-day things that we take for granted is astounding. Add to that the emotional, experiential and psychological lenses that we use to further filter our experiences and its a wonder that we can ever agree on anything at all. Once I realized how uniquely we each see the world I was able to understand the power of modifying my own perception and also begin to understand others whose viewpoints are very different than my own. From that understanding came the ability to bridge gaps with those who see things differently than myself. Powerful stuff.

  11. I love this story. So true and clear about it’s meaning. ‘Learning to dance in the rain’ hmmm … very nicely put.

  12. I’ve heard this story before and is a well worth hearing/reading again! We see/experience the world through our own unique perception. For me gratitude colors most of my days and puts a positive spin on difficult situations. Not every day…not every moment…but most of them.

    gentle steps,

  13. Great story Michael and JD and I so enjoy it every time I hear it.

    Perception and the mind are such interesting tools – I saw a documentary on PBS by Alan Alda – I think it was called Brain Matters and the segment about the “spark” that makes us human. I was just enthralled with the program and totally left my physical self and my problems behind during the watching. It sparked a new mode of healing for me…which has lifted some on my intensity and this is good.

    I used to be able to sing a very high C….then the surgery and no singing any more…I have added 6 notes to my vocal range this past year in hopes of recovering my singing voice…Interesting enough I need to find someone else to play the piano while I work at it, for if I see the G above middle C being played I can not sing any note higher…

    Perception…creativity…the brain…and hope…surefire tools.

  14. I’ve read this before, and I love the story. I also love the blind man. He saw what so many people miss… There’s such truth to the Bible verse that says to focus on what is beautiful and virtuous and noble and of good report. We will see what we look for, what we look at intentionally.

    This man didn’t preach it. He just lived it…

    Thank you, J.D. A wonderful reminder of how to dance in the rain. 🙂

  15. Well-said! Perspective and context can change it all. It’s great when we look at things from several angles and increase our awareness and understanding of life and the world.

  16. The picture of the frog and the horse is a great demonstration in perception. You can see two distinct images… just not at the same time. It’s a great way to show that perception is a choice. A choice that you can exercise a great deal of influence over. I talk about perception in a post I’m publishing today called “One Shocking Story and Two Personal Development Lessons From ‘The Usual Suspects’ Movie.”

  17. I saw the horse before I saw the frog! What does that say about me?

    This is such an eye-opening little story. I’ve read it before and I always wonder where it originated. Every time I come across it, I think it would make a great film. Thanks for sharing it here so I could enjoy it again.

  18. […] notre cerveau Posté sur 28 janvier, 2010 par barbatruc Une histoire trouvée sur le blog sourcesofinsight. A few years back, two men, a paralytic and a man with a terrible lung disease, were confined to a […]

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