How does such inspired thought find its way into the mind of one humble individual?
Why does it seem like this phenomenon is so rare?
And most importantly, how can I be the vehicle or channel for that rare occurrence? How fine would it be to be recognized as such a genius?
Genius level ideas don't flow into the brains of such geniuses as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg just because those people are more deserving. It happens because those people have allowed the space for the brilliance seeds to be planted and nurtured.
Management brilliance comes from the introspective assimilation and processing of information. A study a few years ago at the University of Toronto showed that individual thought and not brainstorming was responsible for most of the grandest innovations in business.
Through private reflection, mind-clearing, and listening carefully to those proverbial fleeting thoughts or seemingly insignificant inklings, anyone can be individually brilliant. That is, anyone can allow the flow of creativity to enter their life when they choose.
The key is to raise your individual filter of importance. To allow for more flow of creativity you must allow for more flow of seemingly insignificant thoughts to your conscious mind.
Each of us does this more often than we realize. We come up with genius ideas all the time, but we never seem to have the resources, time or money to bring them to reality.
The Three Essential Steps to Brilliant Management
Be the next in your company to introduce an innovative new approach or idea. Here are three critical steps you can take now to become more individually brilliant in your day to day:
1. Make time for personal reflection: This week is a crazy week for me. On Sunday I flew to Montreal. I ate dinner, had an evening meeting, and was in 3 days worth of meetings surrounded by people who demanded my attention, almost non-stop. In the evening I ate meals and socialized with my colleagues. When I finally got back to my room I washed up, prepared for bed, and lay down to read my book.
Tonight when I get home I will greet my family, feed the pets, catch up on emails, and run some errands. The rest of this week will seem like much of the same.
Personal reflection in today's day and age, and in North American society, is most often an afterthought. We don't teach it to our kids, and we don't practice it unless we are avid meditators or yoga enthusiasts.
Making time for personal reflection is critical to successfully tapping your genius because it is the only way you will be able to do the next step of the process.
2. Mind Clearing: Like a form of meditation, mind-clearing involves making space in your mind for strokes of brilliance to shine through. Literally, it means stopping your mind from thinking, for 3 minutes or more.
This is hard. Most of us can barely pull it off for 5 seconds or more.
Our minds are wired to "think" involuntarily whether we like it or not. So rather than stopping your thinking, I like to describe it as becoming present with your thoughts.
Becoming present means simply clearing your mind of anything past or future. It means becoming aware of what your breathing sounds like, here and now. Close your eyes. Become aware of what you are sitting on, who is near you, and what sounds are occurring in your present moment. Become aware of the feel of your clothes, and the temperature in the room.
Staying present means that when your thoughts temporarily shift to wanting to adjust the thermostat, you come back into focus on what is happening now, staying away from what might happen in that most immediate future.
By clearing your mind of past and future, and being present with your thoughts, you create space. 3-5 minutes of this is sometimes all that is needed.
3. Listen to your fleeting thoughts and inklings: As you clear your mind, you will have moments of past or future thought. Those are good. They are sources of information and creativity. (Just remember to come back to present in those critical 3-5 minutes.)
Your job is to more actively listen to those fleeting thoughts and inklings as a source of inspiration.
Management Brilliance Right Now
You can make time right now, and create a brilliant thought. Today I made time for personal reflection by sitting at the back of a meeting and clearing my mind. I became actively aware of what was happening in the room. I took in what was happening in the moment. I heard the noise in the room.
The team was in awe of one person's stroke of brilliance.
I continued listening, and staying present.
A fleeting thought approached... I am witnessing individual brilliance from a man who told me earlier today that he had skipped the group dinner last night so he could spend time alone in his room.
I bring myself back to present. I watch. The group has seized hold of his brilliant idea and are elaborating on it.
And from that my own stroke of brilliance. The world needs to know how this works!! And hence the conception of this article.
Leverage Collective Intelligence
Once the brilliant thought has been created, one need only place it in front of a captive audience and subject the idea to what is called collective intelligence. Here is where the research suggests that group thought becomes more valuable.
Through the collective wisdom of the group, one brilliant idea morphs rapidly into alternative and often better versions of the idea that become more and more feasible to implement. By building on the idea with others, you evolve the idea to new heights.
Not even Steve Jobs' inventions made it to the marketplace in their original form of concept.
Why Anybody Can Make This Work
If we use personality theory (Myers Briggs Type Indicator will be our method of choice) to understand how this works, we see quickly that innovation and creativity are derived from concurrent and sequential use of both sides of our energy type.
Introverts are rather well-wired to set aside personal time for reflection. They like to sit quietly, and garner energy from their internal thoughts and ideas.
Extroverts are well-wired to place incomplete ideas forward for discussion and development. They are energized by being surrounded by other people.
We are all well-wired to play on either side of the energy personality indicator, even though we may have a preference for one side over the other.
It would follow then that to generate those rare occurrences of brilliance, we can use energy to attract genius ideas to our conscious mind. Energy is attracted by sequential use of introspective and extroverted practices:
- Allow for dedicated, uninterrupted time of personal reflection and mind-clearing activity (introverted behaviour), and
- Convene groups of smart people to explore and develop the ideas that surface from step one, and who will bring them to reality (extroverted behaviour).
And so it is that I am here, with you as my audience. I leave this thought in your capable hands.