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sherlock holmes, detective, illustration

Success is elementary, my dear Watson. At least, that's the thesis of writer Matt Herron, who argues that if we want to be successful, we should deduce what's needed from that fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes. On, Mr. Herron draws five lessons from the world's most popular sleuth:

Details matter

Sherlock Holmes has an exacting eye for detail. When a woman walks into a room, for example, Holmes can deduce many things about her, from where she has been recently to the nature of her occupation. In the workplace, that eye for detail and careful observation might help you anticipate your boss's expectations or the needs of a customer.

"It takes time to acquire the patience and the eye for this kind of deductive reasoning, but the more you do it, the easier it will become. Not only will it be worth the effort, but it will certainly benefit you by making your job easier in the long run," Mr. Herron writes.

Some mysteries are never solved

In many of Sherlock Holmes's cases, some questions are left unanswered, despite the dazzling revelations by the detective. But Holmes doesn't seem bothered that he can't find the answer to everything. He enjoys the puzzles, and files away everything for future use. Similarly, when you're at work, your brain should always be grappling with puzzles, trying to find new creative solutions. The puzzles should inspire you, keeping your work exciting.

Partners are indispensable

Holmes is brilliant, but still likes to have someone to bounce his ideas off, the ever-present Dr. John H. Watson, a combination partner, assistant, camp follower and chronicler. Do you have a similar partner to help you in your work, occasionally point you in the right direction, and offer faithful support?

Your reputation precedes you

Often the Sherlock Holmes tales begin with somebody knocking on the door of the 221B Baker Street flat, drawn to the detective by his glowing reputation for solving the unsolvable. "Whatever you do, your work reverberates into the future. Whether you do good work or bad work, people will hear about it. If you do bad work employers and clients will avoid you. If you do good work, they will come looking for you," Mr. Herron writes.

There is more than one way to approach a problem

Sherlock Holmes uses many problem-solving techniques, from heading off in disguise to ferret out information, to staying up all night smoking his pipe, to asking discerning questions. If one approach doesn't work, he employs another – just as you should.

Special to The Globe and Mail

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