The ‘aha moment’: it’s all about your approach

The ‘aha moment': it’s all about your approach

In 1981, an IBM employee, Rangaswamy “Sri” Srinivasan, was using an ultraviolet excimer laser to etch metal and computer chips when he had the idea of using it to laser living tissue. He brought his Thanksgiving turkey leftovers in to the lab and used the excimer laser to produce clean, neat incisions with no collateral damage.

Since 2011, this technology has been used to perform 28 million laser eye surgeries worldwide. In 2014 there were 6.9 million in the US alone. This was an ‘aha moment’ to rival all others.

Our natural tendency to be curious is the basis of most successful social media campaigns. Our interest is piqued by a bold headline to the point that we can’t help ourselves from clicking the link to view the video. Or the photo. Or the list of ‘best somethings ever’.

So our curiosity increases with knowledge – the more we know, the more we want to know. And when our curiosity is heightened but not immediately satisfied, we want to know more.

We all display different levels of resourcefulness. Some of us flounder intelligently, trying new ideas and approaches with gradual, increasing success, refining and adapting as we go along. Others of us get stuck, viewing the problem from one dimension only.

Similarly, we all exist on a different scale of personal persistence. Some have the grit and sheer determination to ignore all setbacks and keep going until the job is done, others give up at the first failure.

According to research, being curious, resourceful and persistent is the triumvirate of successful innovation. We can’t all have the next world-changing idea like Srinivasan but we can increase the likelihood of having a greater number of smaller, breakthrough moments. We think there are three ways to do this:

1. Increase your own curiosity

  • Confront gaps in your knowledge. Identify the things you don’t know and use these gaps as a driving force for what you need to learn.
  • Ask big, beautiful ‘’what if’’ questions. Try to frame things with an experimental hypothesis ‘what if we did it this way?’ or ‘why doesn’t this work better?’ The more you put yourself in a learning and questioning mindset, the more you develop curiosity as a habit.
  • Seek out ‘unlike’ minded people. They will inspire, stimulate and challenge you to step out of what you know.

2. Become more resourceful

  • Seek multiple ways to solve a problem. Don’t limit yourself to finding a single solution. Be on the look-out for multiple solutions and determine which one works best. Better still, incorporate elements of all of them in to a perfect hybrid.
  • Use discomfort as a catalyst. If something isn’t working for you make yourself part of the solution. Be pushed to action by the things you wish worked better.
  • Find opportunities to put yourself in situations of uncertainty and exploration. Use these times as a means for expanding your knowledge and resources.

3. Be more persistent

  • Find regular success, even on a small scale. The experience of mastery influences your perspective in your abilities (and increases your motivation).
  • Reframe failure as learning. Some of our greatest learnings come from the times we don’t accomplish our goals.
  • Discard competing goals to enhance focus. To avoid getting distracted, look to protect your focus on a goal by inhibiting alternative goals that compete with your main objective.

For more tips and tricks follow us on twitter @themindgym

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