That Powerful “Aha Moment” May Be Your Best Solution

You’re faced with a seemingly unsolvable problem.  A modern day Gordian Knot for which there seems to be no solution.  At first, when faced with this thorny problem, you may be gripped by analysis paralysis.  It all seems hopeless.  There are no edges to wrap your arms or your brain around.

For some, this sense is overwhelming and they give up.  Entrepreneurs, though, have something different in their blood.  They don’t shy away from a supposedly unsolvable problem and eventually one of two things occurs:  they either analyze it exhaustively and conclude that present technologies and understanding offer no solutions now, or they have an “Aha Moment.”

You’ve had the feeling.  A flash of inspiration from left field provides a complete solution to the problem you were trying to solve.

The Ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes popularized the term “Eureka!” in the 3rd century, BC, when he was in a public bath, of all places.  He had been wrestling with a vexing mathematical problem (how to measure the volume of an irregular object, for instance), a bearded little Greek guy in a public bath.  He couldn’t crack the code.  And then suddenly, he did!  The first recorded Aha Moment! In history.

Now here’s the interesting question.  Wouldn’t it be cool if you could generate Aha Moments on demand?  Well, that’s not how inspiration works.  There’s no bullet proof way to say “I will have an inspiring answer to my vexing problem on 4:00 next Tuesday.”  But, a number of tricks you can help set the stage for those flashes of insight and inspiration, and make them more likely to occur.  Here’s what you need to know on that front.

The Muse Is Fickle

The more you try to force a solution, the harder it is to find it.  That sounds illogical, but it’s the truth.  Genius or inspiration can’t be forced.  It happens when it happens.  If you try to push it, you’ll only wind up driving it away and the solution you’re looking for will be more elusive than ever.

So, if you’ve been staring at the problem for more than a couple hours, it’s time for a break.  Get up and walk around.  Go outside.  Get some sunshine and fresh air.  East some ice cream!  Do something.  Just as long as whatever you’re doing has nothing to do with the problem you’re working on!

Oblique Angles Are Your Friend

One of the very best ways of finding an innovative solution to whatever problem you’re trying to tackle is to do everything but look directly at it.  If you’re developing a new technology product, then instead of looking at your schematics until you feel like your eyes are going to start bleeding, head over to Kickstarter to have a look at what new technology projects are being started.  Go over to TED and watch some inspiring videos on any topic that catches your eye (technology or otherwise).  Or, browse the web for odd headlines and other news.

What you’re doing now is providing raw materials for your brain.  That bundle of creativity that sits atop your shoulders is always processing, always collecting, collating, and cataloging every bit of new data you feed it.  By giving it lots of new toys to play with from a variety of sources and by not consciously focusing on the problem at hand, you’re allowing it to percolate quietly in your subconscious mind.

While you’re enjoying some downtime doing these things, beneath the surface your brain is still grappling with the problem.  But, now, you’ve tossed in a variety of other ingredients.  Your brain is going to take those ingredients and mix them into potential solutions to your problem.  In large part, that’s where those flashes of inspiration come from.

Taken together, these tricks pack a powerful one-two punch that sets the stage nicely for inspiration to occur.

“No matter how entertaining, diverse, concise, or detailed, a writing craft book is, it’s not going to work magic on you, it’s not going to suddenly make you a brilliant writer simply by reading it. You need to use what you read and learn in your own writing. Because that’s when you have those AHA moments. That’s when it really sticks.” – Author: Jessica Bell