Remember that brilliant idea you had when you were singing in the shower one fine morning? Or when you took a quiet walk through the woods on a weekend? Or when you were on the verge of falling asleep one night?
I sure do.
That moment when your brain isn't in its usual overdrive, a moment somewhere between total quiet and absolute chaos. The moment suspended in no one's land. That moment of insight is pure gold. That is the moment some of the most extraordinary ideas and discoveries come to life.
That is an aha-moment.
Yes, it's a real thing. There is a scientific explanation for this. According to Psychology Today our brain functions more clearly when we get off the hamster wheel and make time to stop, relax, and reflect. The scientific description looks something like this:
"The frontal lobe brain networks--responsible for reasoning, planning, decision-making, and judgment--work for you in creative ways when the brain is quiet, not while you are diligently trying to find a solution to a problem. Moments of insight increase as the brain unwinds. Why? When not actively tackling a task, the brain connects random ideas and consolidates these with prior knowledge into exciting new thoughts, ideas, directions, and potential solutions."
It is no secret that the most successful entrepreneurs take time to reflect. Steve Jobs was known to disappear for days or weeks at a time to go to a place where he could totally switch his environment and let creativity in. He took classes (like calligraphy) that had nothing to do with his craft (or so it would seem at the first observation).
The mistake a lot of entrepreneurs make is they don't stop and pause. That is the same mistake a lot of professionals make as well. We get so boggled down with day-to-day demands and activities, we don't pause, assess, take time to go away to think about the bigger picture and broader strategy. We get stuck in the grind.
But there are many advantages to slowing down and even going away:
1. It gives you time to assess the future of your business.
Time to strategize and evaluate is invaluable and a lot of times it works best when you let yourself disconnect from the daily routine of running a business and stepping away to look at the longer-term plans and the creative approach you could take towards achieving your most critical goals.
Sometimes we get so stuck in the grind, we forget why we started the business in the first place. The white space or a quiet place allows you to reconnect with that deeper reason and get back on track.
2. It gives you a chance to get inspired by something or someone else.
When you change your daily environment and allow yourself to be open to new experiences, it opens up opportunities that you haven't potentially thought about: learning new things, getting deeper understanding of your customers, meeting new people that could be vital to your success, the list goes on.
3. It gives you an opportunity to set the right example for your employees.
Not only it shows your employees that it's okay to make a temporary change, to shake things up, to take some time off, it also shows that you trust your staff to step in and run things smoothly while you are away, which is ultimately great for your culture.
4. It gives you a chance to boost your productivity and motivation.
Taking a break rejuvenates you and makes you more productive. But nothing ignites your motivation and excitement like a new idea that can give your business a boost.
In conclusion, find the ways to create that white space, that quiet environment where your brain might generate new ideas effortlessly. It took me a while to figure out what works for me, but here are some things you might want to try:
- Take a drive
- Take a long hike or a run
- Right before you fall asleep, let your mind wonder and reflect on things you usually don't have time to reflect upon
- Commit to a weekend or a day without technology
- Take a pottery or art class, something that is outside of your comfort zone
- Go on a retreat with a crowd you don't usually hang out with
- Read a new book, uninterrupted
Different approaches work for different people. Find what works for you and practice it, consistently. Put it on your calendar, if necessary. But find time to slow down, reflect, look for beauty and inspiration in unusual places. You will be amazed by the results, I promise you.