December 10, 2020 5 min read
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Today I came across a wonderful article about the creative capacity of one of the characters that I find most fascinating: Albert Einstein and I remembered something I learned from my professor in neuroscience, Dr. Irena O’Brien, when she was talking to me about the science behind the insight generation process or those “Aha Moments!” that we have all lived at some point.
He just gave Albert Einstein as an example, who described his own process of generating these “Aha Moments!” take a big speculative leap to a conclusion and then trace the connections to verify the idea .
But, perhaps like me at that moment, you are wondering what is it to make a speculative leap to a conclusion, and the answer is to think of unconventional, non-obvious explanations or solutions, even without apparent logic, and then how Einstein did trace the connections to verify the idea.
When Albert Einstein developed the theory of relativity, he made a huge leap over the traditional laws known so far. And when I think of great innovators, like Steve Jobs and his idea of the creation of the first iPod, John F. Kennedy and his speech of the first trip to the moon at the beginning of the 60s, or Bill Gates and the creation of the first operating system for personal computers, I realize that everyone has started making these great “mental” leaps .
At present, scientists have studied in depth how the process of creativity and innovation works within our brain and what conditions can favor the appearance of these “Aha Moments” in human beings.
There are 5 fundamental steps that I want to talk to you about very quickly:
1. Exploration. A creative brain is a brain that has been exposed to different stimuli, learnings, experiences, that has an open and flexible mind. I love to think, for example, of the great Salvador Dalí , who, of course, was an extraordinary architect, but in turn had a great passion for nature, history, theater, painting and literature. It was the combination of all these passions that fueled his extreme creativity.
2. Focus. A brain that, on the other hand, achieves mastery through practice and repetition is also capable of finding innovative solutions to complex problems in a given area. One of the artists I admire the most is named Ed Sheeran, once in one of his interviews he was asked about how his creative process flows. He replied that he spends more than eight hours a day writing songs, he can write up to 10 a day, to end up with more than 200 songs, of which only 12 or 15 are selected for the new album.
He reinforced that out of 200 songs only 12 or 15 are really very good, but that the rest are part of his creative process. This really surprised me! But I loved hearing it because it debunks that myth that people like him are given everything easy. If it is true that they have great talent, but where the real magic occurs is in the hours and hours of dedication, focus and practice.
3. Incubation. This stage, after exploration and focus, tells us about letting that creative idea rest, that solution we are looking for, perhaps taking a relaxing walk, doing meditation, taking a bath, going to sleep, taking a nap, clearing our mind. , have a pleasant conversation with someone. It is a stage in which we let our unconscious mind (or diffuse mode of thinking, if you’ve read my e-book Learning to Learn , you know what I’m talking about, if you can’t download it for free here) to work to find a creative and innovative solution to our problem.
4. Insight (“Moment Aha!). According to the scientific study done by Kounios, J., and Beeman, M. in 2009 ” The Aha! Moment: The Cognitive Neuroscience of Insight “, although it seems that these” Aha! Moments “were sudden and disconnected from previous thought processes, studies carried out through electroencephalograms have been able to determine that these” revelations “really – that creative idea and The only one that comes to our mind without apparent explanation, that sudden understanding of a problem we were facing and its corresponding solution, even the understanding of a joke or the resolution of a riddle, is given by previous thought processes in different areas of our brain .
All have been originated by the previously described stages: Exploration , Focus and Incubation .
That is, while we can’t force ourselves to have these “Aha! Moments” At a specific moment, what we can be sure of is that the process to be able to show them more frequently in our life is to precede them enough: Exploration, Focus and Incubation . They will simply appear because this is their natural process of occurrence.
Isn’t that amazing? That’s how wonderful our brain is.
5. Monitoring or evaluation. This last stage consists of the analytical evaluation of this new creative idea and its validation, and for this we will be using the areas of our brain that are in charge of our critical thinking and decision making.
I hope that knowing these five steps to unleash your creative and innovation process will help you a lot.
Thanks for getting here! I really wanted to share with you this information that I find so fascinating and so important in these times in which we live, in which creativity is one of the most powerful skills we have for the growth and expansion of our life and our endeavors.