Flash of Brilliance
The current business-speak is all about innovation, innovation, innovation. Whether you’re the leader of a Fortune 100 company, an executive of a high-growth company, or an entrepreneur, innovation is likely to be key to your business approach. Yet where do these disruptive, new ideas come from and how do you dream them up?
Working with many stellar scientists and technologists, I am fascinated with how new ideas come into being. You might think that the very linear, step-by-step scientific approach is what leads to innovative ideas, but I’ve noticed that among the best and the brightest, disruptive new ideas are revealed in a flash of brilliance. This doesn’t in any way discount the planning and thinking that goes into an ‘a to b to c’ approach. Such analysis is often helpful in priming the pump for the flash. As Louis Pasteur said “Chance favors the prepared mind”. And yet, a flash is still needed. This is one reason why so many successful people attribute their success to luck. The flash of brilliance seems to come out of nowhere-when you’re in the shower, in the middle of the night, while driving, from a few words someone else said that got you thinking.
Notice these flashes happen when your brain has unoccupied time to think on its own and you’ve prepped it by giving it something big and juicy to think about. You begin using your “nonconscious resources”. You access your deeper thinking. David Rock, coach and neuroscientist says “great ideas come when the mind is quiet”. It’s tough to have a flash of brilliance if your brain is constantly occupied with electronics, multitasking, and to-do lists and never has a moment of peace. The surface noise of daily life blocks the deeper insights from surfacing.
So get off that technology and give your brain free rein with the problem. Begin to access your deep, non-conscious, below the surface thinking. An applied physicist told me recently, he sometimes can’t even talk when his brain is working a problem. Clearly texting is out of the question!
Next time you want a flash of brilliance, prime the pump by asking the big question and then, give your brain some rest by playing, relaxing, or exercising so the problem is working in the background using the resources in your brain that aren’t under your conscious control. And await the flash.