The Eureka Moment

Earlier I wrote of asking your employees for their ideas on how to make your business better.  After all, they are the frontline of your business, and few would know the intricacies of how your business operates better than they.

The opposite of this idea is to bring in people with a highly creative bent and have them examine your business to provide their ideas on how to better your business.  Without saying so, this idea implies that your employees are not creative enough to come up with good ideas.  What could a print press operator, for example, know about how to improve your corporate marketing.

You’d be surprised.

Creativity is a Process

Most of our great discoveries happened when the discoverer was not looking for a solution.  There’s Newton and the falling apple, Archimedes and the overflowing bathtub, and Fleming drawing pictures using bacteria for the various colors.  It was the distractions from what they were working on allowed them to see the solution they came up with.

While those inventors had extensive education in their field of study, that is not necessarily a requirement.

For example, coffee, that venerable drink we all consume, was discovered by goats.  Legend says an Ethiopian goat herder noticed that his goats, after eating the berries from a certain tree, became so energetic that they did not want to sleep at night.   This goat herder reported his findings to the abbot of the local monastery, who made a drink with the berries and found that it kept him alert through the long hours of evening prayer. The abbot shared his discovery with the other monks at the monastery, and knowledge of the energizing berries began to spread.

Stories abound, like Post-It Notes, bubble wrap, and Play-Doh, where great discoveries have been made by people having a eureka moment where they realized they found something they were not looking for while looking for something entirely different.

How to Facilitate Eureka Moments

In the ancient world, the Greeks believed that all great insights came from one of nine muses, divine sisters who brought inspiration to mere mortals.  That is not much help for us today.

Eureka moments feel like flashes of insight because they often come out a period when the mind isn’t focused on the problem, what psychologists call a period of incubation. Incubation is the stage where people briefly step back from their work.

Many of the most productive and creative people intentionally set a project aside and take a physical break from their work, believing that this incubation stage is where ideas begin to come together below the threshold of the conscious mind.

Some people even juggle various projects at the same time under the belief that while their conscious mind is focusing on one project, their other projects are incubating in their unconscious.

Taking a break from the problem and focusing on something else entirely gives the mind some time to release its fixation on the same solutions and let the old pathways fade from memory. Then, when you return to the original problem, your mind is more open to new possibilities – producing a eureka moment.

Application for Today

Understanding this incubation process for creative ideas is the key to seeing why employees have historically come up with so many great ideas for their companies.  While doing their job, they can unintentionally mentally work on a diverse problem that they have noticed in the workplace.

Our objective, as business leaders, is to provide the opportunity to our employees allowing them to think about problem outside of their specific responsibilities and see what incubates out.

Great ideas come from eureka moments.

The Bible

God is waiting for you to have a “eureka” moment.  The Bible is the source of all the truth you will ever need.  All the business advice given today by the gurus of the business world has already been printed in the Bible.  There is no new advice.

Eureka—instead of listening to all those podcasts and reading stacks of business magazines and How-to books, all you really need to do is read the Bible.

Provide the same opportunity for yourself that we suggest you provide for your employees.  Let ideas incubate as you read the Bible with an open mind and see what messages, inspirations and revelations God places on your heart and mind. 

Open yourself up for a eureka moment, and truly learn what God has in store for you.