Monday, January 11, 2010

Got a Tough Problem-Work It Out

I'm reading a new book that everyone should go out and buy. Its called The Brain Advantage, Become a More Effective Business Leader using the Latest Brain Research. A friend of mine is a co-author so I got a copy from him to read through. I've made several connections to my own experiences in leadership.

I'm going to share one of them with you here, then you go right out and buy the book.

We've all been there. You have a tough problem that you just can't figure out. You have the best experts in the field working on it with you, the best collective brainpower around and still the answer eludes you. What do you do? The authors of The Brain Advantage suggest; walk away for awhile, go do something else, take a nap, have a workout, chit chat with friends, whatever. Do anything except focus on that problem, anything that allows you to relax, that is. So The Brain Advantage strikes again, more folklorish knowledge is confirmed through science. I think we all know instinctively that when we need to solve a tough problem, its best to cool off, do something "mindless" and magically, the Eureka moment comes to us. For me, I do my best thinking while on the bike for a long ride. I usually come back from a long ride outside with several new ideas. I routinely bring back notes on my cell phone for ideas for posts on this blog. Usually the sleep thing does not work for me. If I try to go to sleep with a problem on my mind, I'm awake for a significant part of the night.

In The Brain Advantage, the authors discuss research that shows that that creative people tend to be more flexible in their thinking and relaxed than people not considered creative. Neuroscientist Mark Jung-Beeman discovered that people who were in a good mood solved more problems with insight than those who were not in a good mood. Dr. Jung-Beeman observed that this may help explain why people find solutions to their problems in the shower or during a short nap or some other activity that is relaxing and allows the brain to unwind. So the next time you have a sticky problem that is haunting you, just walk away, go have some fun, and the answer may come to you.

You can pick up a copy of The Brain Advantage here.

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