They come suddenly. At random or after a period of intensive attention. Aha! A spark in the dark. Eureka, now I see! We all have those moments of insight, realization, inspiration, recognition, or understanding. Not when we are busy and hyper-focused, but when we relax and think of something else or don’t think at all.
Insights can range from small to large, from an ordinary event to a life-changing experience, from an enjoyable bonus to a strong call to action. They always come from beyond expectation and imagination. If noticed and welcomed, these new ideas can improve work and life in beautiful ways.
Innovation often starts with an Aha! moment. Existing information is paired with fresh data, and new brain connections are established. It is the creation of these new neural pathways that trigger the spark of energy and fuel our engagement.
This is what we look for. Insight is key to learning, training, coaching, mentoring and many change initiatives. Teams and organizations strive to make the way from information to insight and impact as short as possible.
Here is the paradox: we want insights, but in most cases our working conditions do not allow us to have them. Without real learning time, the speed may be there, but the true insights are missing. By moving too fast and zooming in too quickly, we miss potential beneficial solutions.
The ability to gain insights is a unique human trait. Machines are good at endless calculation and learning from repetitive input. Humans are not suited for that. We are better at emotional and social learning, intuitive insight, and imaginative manifestation.
At a time when digital technologies and artificial intelligence are making breakthroughs in almost all areas, we need to intensify and cultivate human learning. Otherwise, information overload and possibility paralysis threaten to disrupt and destroy sensible decision-making.
Allowing your mind to be more “insight-full” is an antidote to biased and habitual processing. David Rock, the founder of Neuroleadership Institute, suggests you do the following if you want to increase the chance of insight:
- Be quiet. Silence and solitude are crucial for noticing subtle signals and nurturing Aha! moments.