Need Inspiration? Pop to the loo!

We were absolutely stumped on one of the missions in the Tokyo Metro: The Underground Mysteries over the new year. The four of us just could not work it out. The kids got gradually more crabby and we could see the sun getting low in the winter sky. Finally we admitted defeat and opened the page with the answer.

Which I will not reveal – NO SPOILERS!

It was so frustrating not to be able to work out how the answer was reached. Even though we knew where we needed to go next we didn’t know why. (reminds me of my post on when hitting goals feels like failure!) There was a niggling annoyance and disappointment. But time was ticking and it we needed to get moving. Oh well!

Before we got ready to leave the cafe, I popped to the loo. As I was washing my hands, suddenly I had a flash of inspiration. Could it really be that simple? Was it possible that that was the answer?

“Hey, DH, you know the thingy does it have a whatchamacallit on it?!” (I told you no spoilers!)

And, yes, it did! We understood how to solve the puzzle. I felt so light and happy!

We all know, in theory, that when we are stumped by a problem we need to create some distance, allow the brain some time to access it. Last week was a really perfect example of this unconscious processing in action.

“Unconscious processing” is the third step in James Webb Young’s 1965 classic “A Technique for Producing Ideas“. And we’ve all experienced it! You know the feeling of the Eureka moment- having our best ideas in the shower, whilst taking a walk, doing something completely different to just let the brain do its job without things being so hard. It really questions the point of brainstorming in meetings and exposes why it is so hard for teams to be innovative in those environment.

As a side note, I recently heard Emily Aarons on James Wedmore’s podcast talking about why that whole water on the head in the shower is such a great way to have ideas – an interesting idea of the power of chakras if that floats your boat! I’ll take the magic and the science – whatever helps!

How to apply Unconscious Processing in daily life?

What ideas are you finding tough at the moment? Where have you been working hard but not seeing any new connection or inspiration?

It might be time to step away from the whiteboard, post its or screen and create some space for unconscious processing.

With no scientific proof, here are five simple ideas to make like Elsa and let it go!

  1. Find water – take a bath, jump in the shower, sit on the loo, walk by the river, go for a swim, wash your hands – Find flow!
  2. Take a hike!… or a walk, or climb the stairs, go for a run – get some exercise endorphins to move your brain into a new state
  3. Get your hands dirty – sketch, colouring in for grown ups, play with modelling clay, legos, play a musical instrument – focus on some different parts of your body to forget about your conscious brain.
  4. Pause – ah yes, the Points of You® favourite for transitions, shifting energy and opening up to inspiration. Mindfulness, meditation, or just sit and listen to some music.
  5. Why Don’t You? take inspiration from the 1980s UK classic TV show “Why Don’t You Just Switch Off Your Television Set and Go and Do Something Less Boring Instead?” chat with a colleague about challenges in their business, talk to someone outside your company/ industry, go to a new exhibition, read a magazine or listen to a podcast from an area you don’t know anything about. Innovation and inspiration can come from the most unlikely of places.

Would love to hear your ideas about unconscious processing in the comments!

Want your team to discover unexpected but precise connections? Points of You® Experiences are great places to unlock new perspectives and innovate in an inclusive environment. Take a look at some of the corporate workshops (including finding your individual and corporate ikigai) or contact me to set up a meeting to create a custom made workshop for 2020!

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