Whether you’ve been a Whipp subscriber for years or are new to our community, there’s a good chance you’ve heard me talk about the power of an “aha moment.” Those moments of sudden realization, when a challenge we were facing finally makes sense, are priceless. Something finally clicks and a new insight shifts our perspective.

I’ve been a big believer in aha moments for a very long time—and for good reason. I’ve found that these moments have the ability to redirect our lives, fuel creativity and propel us forward, on both our personal and professional journeys.

Some of the most famous aha moments are from world-renowned thought leaders, like Albert Einstein, who famously realized time is relative, and Isaac Newton who questioned an apple’s path, leading him to the theory of gravity.

Part of my role as an executive coach is to create an environment that’s conducive to aha moments; a breeding ground for them, if you will. I help my clients connect the dots in new and unexpected ways. They are responsible for getting through that final stretch and having their own moment of discovery, but I help guide them in the right direction.

I liken aha moments to those 3D images that look like nothing when you’re up close, but as soon as you take a step back, you can see the person, animal or pattern that was hidden. Once you see what’s there, you can’t unsee it. From that point forward, you’ll only see the item you’ve uncovered. 

When faced with something difficult, the human brain begins to work on a subconscious level, processing new information and trying to identify potential solutions. It’s this brain activity that creates space for an aha moment.

For example, I was recently working with a client who needed to have a difficult conversation with an employee. This employee was consistently missing deadlines and delivering subpar work, and she finally admitted in this conversation that she sometimes doesn’t understand the assignments that she’s given. And many times, she’s too nervous to ask for clarification or further instructions.

This leader had made so many assumptions about the situation, attributing the issues to poor time management, laziness, a lack of focus, and even, just simply not spending enough time on the job. But this conversation led to a huge aha moment. My client realized that everything he’d thought was true was not. He was able to see the situation in an entirely different light, and make the needed changes to communication to help this employee not only deliver, but thrive.

As I said, aha moments can have major impacts on your journey, both professionally and personally. Over the years, I’ve found certain tactics to be helpful in creating more aha moments. Here are a few ways you can do just that:

1. Expose yourself to new experiences and information: I’ve found that exposing yourself to new perspectives can help stimulate new ways of thinking, and lead to amazing aha moments. Stepping outside of your comfort zone, whether that’s through new and different activities or conversations with new and interesting people, can help facilitate discovery.

2. Go do something else: Walking away from a challenge for a little can give you a new perspective that you didn’t see before. That’s why we often have the best ideas in the shower or during a hike or when we’re out for dinner with friends, talking about something completely unrelated. It’s the subconscious brain that does the heavy lifting when it comes to aha moments, but you have to give it space to do the work.

3. Seek insight (and value it!): In 2023, we’re overloaded with information, which is why I find insights so valuable. Have discussions that help connect the dots between pieces of data or information, and value that input. Try to recognize when you’re maybe set in a certain way of thinking or have made assumptions; letting go can help you see new perspectives and possibilities.

4. Get comfortable having difficult conversations: As you read earlier, having difficult conversations can expose you to new ideas and viewpoints that you likely hadn’t considered. Being open to these discussions and encouraging participation in these discussions can have a huge impact on generating more aha moments. Combining different ideas, experiences and emotions can help you see things in new ways, broadening our thinking and uncovering new angles of approach.

Have you had an aha moment that changed everything? Join me on LinkedIn and let’s continue the conversation.

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