It's been said that nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come. Execution is important, but at the core of every great company, product, campaign, or strategy is a single insight.

On a recent Tim Ferriss podcast (start at 22:55) with Chess Grandmaster and Performance Coach Josh Waitzkin, Watzkin reveals how to spark insights using the subconscious mind. In short, our analytical, conscious mind sometimes gets in the way of our deeper subconscious creativity and awareness. When we relax the parts of the brain associated with conscious problem solving, the other parts of the brain associated with subconscious creativity can take a leading role. Personal reflection through consistent journaling can lead to major business insights like identifying strategic partnership opportunities, effective hiring and staff structuring, new ways to market a product or service, and business model innovations. Here's how the process works:

  1. Pose a concrete question to yourself. For example, How do we triple revenue next year? What's my biggest blind spot? How will I enhance my performance exponentially in X discipline?
  2. Think about it deeply in a creative burst. Use a whiteboard, journal, or brainstorm aloud alone or with others.
  3. Then, stop thinking about the question altogether and let your mind relax so your creative subconscious can take over. Accomplish this by taking a nap, working out, enjoying a meal, going for a walk, or getting a good night's rest. Yes, it's that simple and easy.
  4. Immediately after your rest stage, capture the insights your subconscious mind surfaces. Jot them down or journal about them before you receive any external inputs like email, social media, work chatter, or the news.

I love to journal in the morning, so I've made it part of my daily morning ritual. If you'd like to do the same, I recommend posing your question and enjoying a creative burst at the end of your workday, and then journal first thing in the morning shortly after waking up. In this situation, your subconscious mind is processing your question while you sleep.

Alternatively, you can pose your question and have a creative burst right before a morning activity that allows your mind to rest. For example, working out, taking a shower, meditating, going for a walk, or cooking and eating breakfast. Just make sure to schedule time after the mental rest period to capture the immediate insights that arise.

If you've never kept a journal before and want an excellent example, check out Morning Pages or The Five Minute Journal, two templates that make journaling easy and rewarding.