Do you recognise that distinctive feeling of the AHA moment?
The moment of sudden enlightenment? The flash of insight? The lightbulb? The eureka? Epiphany? Stroke of genius?
When we are wrestling with a problem or tilting on the horns of a dilemma, what all of us are hoping for, maybe even praying for, is that moment of AHA!
When it finally does come, it may bring a sense of overwhelming relief, quiet satisfaction or exhilaration, euphoria or stunned amazement. It might come when we are actively thinking, but more often it comes to us in a dream, in the shower, walking on the beach, driving, doodling, daydreaming or generally relaxing.
Paul McCartney tells of waking up with the tune to (what would become) the classic song “Yesterday’ fully composed in his head…
Sometimes it comes in a flash, other times dawning only after long and slow incubation. Sometimes it appears as an elusive and capricious half thought that only truly manifests when combined in collaboration with other people.
So where does an AHA moment come from?
Why do some people seem to have more AHA moments, more inspiration, more ideas and be better at crafting solutions? Are they just creative or do we all have the potential to trigger more AHA moments?
My research shows that AHA moments come when we delve deep into our subconscious, when the stirring of forgotten or elusive memories mash together with old and new knowledge, skills, random observations, experience and even intuition. It takes shape as our thoughts are fed by our constantly scanning brain, as it relentlessly experiments with random and infinite connections.
Louis Pasteur, legendary scientist believed that “Chance favours the prepared mind”. Writer and TED speaker Steven Johnson, author of “Where Good Ideas Come From” says that “Chance favours the connected mind” and perhaps this is easier to relate to. See his TED talk here:
All well and good, but how do we get to AHA? How can we increase the chances of AHA? No guarantees HERE, but according to things I have tried and tested here are a few tips that I have found to promote AHA moments….
- Make time and space for your brain. Daydream, just allow your mind to wander and freewheel. Push unwanted thoughts aside and focus on anything that will free your mind. A sound, a colour, clouds, air….
- Don’t overdose on facts. Facts can be fun, but over reliance on what we know can prove to be detrimental and afflict us with ‘the curse of knowledge’ where we fail to think outside our self imposed ‘box’.
- Make time for new experiences, people and play. Feed the reserves of your mind so that you have a wealth of resources to draw on.
- Get plenty of sleep. Before you go to sleep, relax and ask yourself what the answer is to the question you are trying to solve. Then STOP worrying about it and trust your brain.
- Share only when you are ready. Sometimes, sharing with another can help things fall into place but the timing can be critical. Many half formed ideas can be crushed when shared too early.
- Loving your idea can be deceiving. Sometimes we love an idea so much that it is our only reality. Maybe it is genius and maybe it isn’t. That’s ok. If you have had one idea you will have many more.
- Be prepared for the roller coaster. Implementation may not always go smoothly. Don’t despair. Be prepared to adapt and to pivot on your solution.
- Never stop imagining. Every day look around you and see what could work better or be done differently. Exercise your AHA skills and write down your ideas.
- Work out who could benefit from your ideas and start thinking about how to bring your ideas and solutions into reality.
- Be prepared to share. Difficult! But usually, this is how we become ideopraxists—people who put ideas into practice.
I would love to hear about your AHA moments or any creative tips you might like to share.