Sherlock Holmes is the symbol of the genius and the standard of a great player. He’s popular with a reason, and inspired many authors who modelled their detective or some other fictional character after him. Lots of people took a liking to reading and thinking because of the sleuth, and many chose to work for the police as detectives or some other criminal experts. Holmes is a literary character who had a significant practical effect on forensic science (Link: The science of criminology). We can learn a lot from him for our everyday life even when we don’t want to be writers or detectives. Sherlockian-sherlock.com tries to show in a rare and unique way that the habits of the Victorian mastermind and his modern adaptations can lead us to smarter solutions, to an easier, more successful life.
1. FIND THE MOTIVATION – LIKE A GOOD DETECTIVE
When we have a quarrel with someone, or we'd like to understand his/her surprising actions, take some time and think about this other person's motivations. Try to find out what made him/her do what he/she had done, what was the aim of it.
Anyone who reads Conan Doyle’s Canon knows that Sherlock understands very well the nonverbal signs of others – their mimic and body language. This is of utmost importance when we want to know others better, because everybody uses these signs. Furthermore, these are quite instinctive reactions and though some people can manipulate them – actors, for example –, most of us cannot do this, so if we can read body language, it tells us the mood others are in or reveals their future plans.
'The majority of individuals view their surroundings with a minimal amount of observational effort. They are unaware of the rich tapestry of details that surrounds them, such as the subtle movement of a person's hand or foot that might betray his thoughts or intentions.' - Joe Navarro, author, public speaker, former FBI agent and supervisor
Recommended reading: Joe Navarro’s books on body language
4. DEVELOP YOUR COMMUNICATION AND SENSE OF JUSTICE
We express our thoughts and feelings through communication, which we often use as a tool for solving problems. It’s important to communicate in a well and sincere way with our loved ones and people we have to cooperate with. Our interlocutors need it to understand us and our goals. Sincerity gives trust and the feeling of security, it signs that we are reliable and helps to avoid troubles caused by false information. Sherlock likes to remember the facts, these are the things he can work with. His sincerity helps his clients many times to have the same approach. One can’t build good human relationship and excellent community upon lies. As Pope Saint John Paul II wisely said: ’Where the seeds of lying and falsehood are sown, there spears distrust and disagreement.’
’It’s a common saying that being sincere is difficult. People don’t dare to be sincere because they think they get injured. I use sincerity as a weapon in everyday communication. If I lie to myself, I also broadcast lies towards the people around me. It would make them telling lies as well. This can be good for me only in the short run. I would delude myself how many good people surround me.’ (Imre Csernus, Hungarian psychiatrist, writer, presenter)
Sherlock Holmes rarely lies in Conan Doyle’s stories. He tells the truth most of the time, even when it seems rough. The only exception of a rule is when he wants to get information from a criminal or a witness, or when he makes a joke. (Sadly in the modern adaptations some writers ravage this feature and their sleuth often lies without a reason. Do not follow this example! The canonical Sherlock Holmes was a true gentleman, not a lying bastard.)
In the course of communication we can learn to recognize others better based on observing their tones and the rhythm of their speech.
When we speak, it is recommended not to answer immediately, but to take a deep breath before. This gives our brain a little time to formulate a correct answer.
Some other practical tips:
a.) Enrich our vocabulary regularly. Do not let our brain get accustomed to the messages of the virtual world that consist of a few characters. Dare to speak and write longer when we have to, and enrich our vocabulary with reading.
Recommended site: The importance of reading
b.) Don’t forget to coomunicate when we are in trouble. When we happened to get lost in an unfamiliar, abandoned place, and we can’t reach anyone by cellphone, form some big (3-7 meters big) HELP sign from stones, branches or write it on the ground. This may be useful – someone can notice it from a plane or a high place. It can save lives.
c.) The ’Cumberbatch-trick’ – for famous people:
Sherlock actor Benedict Cumberbatch shows his message
Sherlock Holmes is someone who can perfectly use media when he has to. He places an advert in the newspapers if it is needed for his investigation. Unfortunately media often publishes fake information about famous people or celebrities. A social media profile can be hacked and ill-intentioned people may publish fake things on it as well. Famous people are often blackmailed, so they have to pay to get their social media profiles back. Benedict Cumberbatch thinks with a reason that social media is dangerous. We have to mention that some pages often derogate vocabulary, and the shallow content, the commercials, emoticons and the pop-up notifications can divert the reader’s attention. In the course of time they reduce our ability of concentrating as well. Celebrities and famous people already existed long before social media, and Benedict himself did not become well-known either because of these sites. (If we want to, we can use the possibilities of social media, but within bounds.)
Sometimes an interview fails or goes wrong – the reporter may change many things in the text or when it is a live interview, he/she may talk too much. It is essential for famous people to have an agent, manager and lawyer to check everything that is said/written about him/her, and to protect his/her reputation, but sometimes they may react when it’s too late.
The written message of Benedict Cumberbatch is excellent because:
- it’s much more personal than a post on social media – he wrote it and he holds it in his hand. This evokes sympathy.
- though the photo of him holding the text can be manipulated later, yet he has many witnesses who can recall the true message
- it is his message, he says what he wants – nobody can misunderstand/misinterpret it
- it’s cheap, fast and creative
Sherlock Holmes himself would love this clever trick. The Great Detective always had a writing material. In The Naval Treaty Watson mentions that he makes a note upon his shirt cuff. (You can see this scene in the Granada series.)
Cryptography and other interesting things about writing:
- studying psychology – and solutions for stress management as well
- studying philosophy (Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, The Art of Wordly Wisdom by Baltasar Gracián)
Observation/ the window trick: Sherlock Holmes often observes the street from his window, and he can tell lots of things about people passing by. It is worth to follow his example and make such observations in our family, in school or at our workplace. When we are on the street, do not hang on our phone (an emergency call is of course an exception) – observe the environment instead: people, roads, traffic lamps, cars. This way we’ll know more about the city and the people, we can avoid accidents and do not call the attention of cellphone thieves. When we have to make a call, choose a calm place where we can concentrate on the conversation. Streets are dangerous fields, they need our full attention. While we observe people walking, talking and shopping, we can learn about body language and other interesting things.
6. TIME MANAGEMENT
In our article How to think like Sherlock Holmes we have already mentioned how important time is for the detective – indeed, it’s important for everyone. It’s always useful to manage our time right. When we are good at time management, it gives us the feeling of security and makes our life much easier. Not being late tells others that we are reliable. At the time of Doyle’s Holmes accuracy was an expected virtue.
Nowadays we use our cellphone for lots of things, yet many people are late. There are applications like timer or calendar that warn us of our duties. Yes, we have to take a few seconds to set them, but we save lots of time and even more discomfort using them. On a computer a similar usefool tool can be Chrome Momentum and other programs like that.
Some tips for people who are always late:
Think it over thoroughly what are the things we need at our morning start. Try to plan the preparation. The best thing is to pack our things calmly at the night before. If we still have to do it in the morning, consider the things we have to do. For example when we can take something to our bag heading towards the kitchen for having breakfast, take it with us a do not go back for it later. This way we can gain some time. After doing this planning several times, our brain gets used to eliminate the unnecessary coming and going.
Important: pay attention to our morning duties, and do not lament over the bad things in our life or fantasise about the dream we had at night.
In favor of avoiding being late add plus 10 minutes to the time we need getting where we want to go (Or to put it more simple, depart from home 10 minutes earlier). When we have to go to a place we are not familiar with, we can even add plus 15 or even 30 minutes. And if we are still late, always inform those who are waiting for us (may they be a friend, a relative, our boss or a business partner). Ignore the superstition mentioned in magazines for women, and do not sit at home for ten minutes when we had to go back for something we’ve forgotten (the saying goes that we have to wait ten minutes to avoid misfortune). When we wait, we loose ten minutes, we fume, and people may think we are silly to believe in superstitions. Take a deep breath instead, exhale, do not blame ourselves and continue our journey. If we stick to the added times we mentioned earlier, we won’t be late even when we had to go back for something.
7. CLOSE YOUR EYES
It’s well-known that Sherlock Holmes gladly keeps his eyes closed when he’s in a safe environment. This can be very useful, because when seeing is excluded, our brain has less tasks to do and it can concentrate more on its remaining duties.
Closing our eyes is beneficial when:
a.) We have to rely on our imagination – for some artistic activities (painting, sculpting, etc.)
b.) We’d like to do some meditation – it helps to eliminate stress and cumulates energy. It supports the relaxation of the brain, for being able to work with renewed power.
'In A Breath’ - Benedict Cumberbatch:
A marvellous journey into the ocean depths capturing the relationship between breath and time, drawing the parallel between the longstanding practice of meditation and diving – highlighting the impact that both have on our sense of time.
c.) We have a headache or we are too tired – try to do it in a quiet place. (In case we do not allow ourselves to fall asleep, set the timer on our cellphone)
It is crucial to be in a safe environment when we’d like to keep our eyes closed. Do not practice it while sitting in a public vehicle or waiting in an office. We might get robbed or someone might come before us in the queue.
8. THE GAME IS ON – LEARN TO PLAY
We have to be prepared for the game – may it be a physical or a mental challenge:
a.) When we do some sports or take part in some physical contest, warm-up is essential. Vasily Livanov’s Holmes stretches his muscles before his encounter with Professor Moriarty. Coaches, trainers and doctors recommend stretching to protect our muscles. It can help us attain better results and reduces the chance of getting injuries.
b.) Sherlock Holmes knows very well the different tricks of criminals, which enables him to infiltrate to a gang. It is useful for us ordinary people as well. Of course we do not want to commit crimes, but if we know how tricksters think and what they do, we may avoid being deluded.
And what is more, this can be funny as well.
We can recognize the twists in movies or detective stories, even when these are shown like this:
Magic Secrets Revealed:
HOW TO MAGICALLY WALK THROUGH A GLASS WINDOW!
A plate situated at a frame doesn’t always mean that there’s a glass wall in front of us.
It is worth to improve our knowledge about human thinking because we may feel ashamed on account of some instinctive reactions, and we may even think we are dumb. But when we see that others have the same reply, our self-confidence may grow, because we realize this is a natural reaction. We can also learn some solutions to ease or eliminate these disliked reactions.
We’d like to recommend some programs. Don’t be scared off by the fact that some are ’old’ – they are still relevant. We do hope that you’ll find them useful and entertaining at the same time.
- Brain Games (2001-present - recommend: Season 1-7)
- Redesign My Brain (2013-2015)
- The Real Hustle (2006-2012)
- Breaking the Magician's Code: Magic's Biggest Secrets Finally Revealed (1997-2002)
- Penn & Teller Tell a Lie (2011)
- The Prestige (film, 2006)
- Exam (film, 2009)
- SAS Survival Secrets (2003-2004)
- Science of Stupid (2014-2015)
- Lifehacker tips (books, articles, online videos)
- Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minister comedy series (1980-1988, and the latter was revived in 2013) – we recommend to watch the ones with the original cast (Paul Eddington, Sir Nigel Hawthorne, Derek Fowlds)
9. STOP THE GAME OR MODIFY IT
Perhaps this is the most surprising point for some of our readers, but a good player can stop the game or modify its conditions.
a.) To stop the game: When his client lies to him or withholds some important information, the detective considers not taking the case. He is fully aware of the fact that the client needs his services desperately, but he can help only when having the full confidency of the client and every single information he/she can give. When these requirements are not available, Sherlock doesn’t let anyone to waste his time.
Clerks also may use this trick in a polite way.
Everyday stop: Imagine that people are queueing in an office, and someone (trickster or not) stands right between the two rows with the intention that he/she will choose the faster moving one. While waiting, this someone talks or makes a phone call, or his/her attention is diverted by any other ways. When your turn comes, he/she says that he/she was there earlier – this can lead to a quarrel, or even a fight. To stand right between the two rows is a logical decision till you or other people arrive, because you or the others will have trouble. (Queueing was invented by very clever people. Who doesn’t stand in the line, breaks the rule.) With communication you can prevent the inconvenience. Just ask in which line he/she stands. This way he/she has to choose, and the answer may reveal that he/she is only waiting for someone else who is in the line. It’s a small trick, but proves to be very useful.
b.) Asking for cooperation: when Sherlock encounters an inspector whom he haven’t worked with before, he always politely offers him to work together, to mutually share their information and to do anything for solving the crime. He states that when the inspector wants to work alone, he’ll respect his decision and they both investigate on separate ways. (The writers of the Granada Sherlock Holmes series kept this feature, allowing Jeremy Brett’s Sherlock to do it in several episodes – for example, in The Naval Treaty or Wisteria Lodge)
This behaviour can be followed in business as well.
c.) Restart the game: We mentioned several times that the Great Detective is the symbol of hope (Recommended site: I believe in Sherlock Holmes). One of his most beautiful, most sanguine and most clever characteristic is that he dares to ’restart’ his life when the circumstances force him to do so (after Reichenbach, or when he infiltrates into a gang for a longer period in His Last Bow). He is able to adapt, so he creates new chances for himself. He teaches a noteworthy lesson: when life brings difficulties, think over our possibilities and dare to change.
10. USE 'SHERLOCKING' - BECAUSE SherlocKing :-D
The character of Sherlock Holmes inspired lots of things – books, films, science and so on. But the Great Detective (or his name, to be precise) plays an important role in the scouting movement as well. Sherlock Holmes has a peculiar ability: he collects clues, analyses and deduces them, and finally he solves the most controversial cases. Similarly, scouts have to use specific abilities for being able to save lives and find their way about in the woods. This skill was called „ Sherlock Holmes-ism ” or „ Sherlocking ”. The reason for that is simple. The technique consists of eight words, and it is made up from the letters of the name „Sherlock”. In other words, it is a list of things one has to do in order to be prepared as the great detective.