The neuroscience of the Aha!

What would happen in your business if you could get your employees to experience more moments of brilliant ideas – the aha moment or the insight? We now know enough about how to set up our brains to experience more aha’s on a daily basis. The steps are counter-intuitive (as are most of the very cool brain applications, which is why I love the field so much), and one important step is to stop trying so hard to think of an aha!

Yep, it turns out the harder you try to think of something brilliant, the more you will fail. One of the keys of the aha moment is relaxation. You must stop trying to deliberately solve the problem. Instead just relax and let the idea “come to you.”

There is a saying that we get our best ideas in the shower, and it’s not a myth. It’s not an accident either. We are our most relaxed in the shower, so ideas and connections come easily and plentifully. Also, think about when you forget a name, you try so hard to remember it, and it still doesn’t come. But when you forget about it, it comes. There’s no coincidence there. When you can recreate that relaxed feeling all day long, your aha’s will multiply – even quantum leap – and you will get some great new insights for your business and your life.

The science of the aha is especially important for me as a coach (and for other coaches reading this), because science now tells us that there are certain phrases that shut down clients. According to David Rock, one of them is “Tell me more…” Apparently, when clients are asked to tell their coaches more, the brain wiring defaults to a defensive posture. David didn’t say what to tell clients instead of “Tell me more..” but perhaps we should ask them to relax a lot.

If you are like me and do your days at 90 miles an hour, conditioning yourself to produce more aha’s requires that you slow down, unplug, and take time to relax. Especially if you are stressed, you will need to reverse the stress and relax into whatever you are stressed about. (I realize easier said than done, but I can’t resist suggesting my “30 Days to a Stress-Free Life” binder, which is not only fabulous for your health but will increase your aha’s, too.) Increase your relaxation time through self-care or simply quiet meditative time. In any case, you will likely need to book an appointment with yourself to have aha time.

This is pretty cool implementation homework: just relax. Try relaxing at key times during the day for a week, and see if your aha’s increase.