Summer Summit Sequel – “Aha!”

Oksana Buhel ChairAnother amazing Summer Summit. As expected, there was no shortage of information, resources, networking opportunities and fun (very important) to be gleaned. Randi Glass, CAE, CMP and the entire Summer Summit team did a stellar job.

So now what? What do we do with this information? Can this information be used to contribute to the greatly coveted “aha!” moments? Philosophers, psychologists and neuroscientists have studied “aha!” moments for more than a century and there seems to be
some consensus (“aha!”) on what can contribute to these.

Arm Yourself with Information

Summer Summit 2019 – twenty one workshops, one keynote, six lightning talks, countless opportunities to network with over 250 association professionals and business partners. Plenty of fodder for an “aha!” moment.  But this alone is not enough. It’s like a mound of clay (play doh?) which still needs to be shaped. And parts discarded. And sometimes restarted.

Slow Down and Take Note

Our schedules are packed. Lots of meetings, lots of teleconference, lots of people.  Lots of Summer Summit resources to go through to extract still clinging information. We tend not to schedule quiet time to just reflect. This meditative state is frequently linked to better decision making. No matter how busy you are, do your best to take breaks between meetings and find some alone time. Complex problems need contemplation. Once you have found a quiet spot, try to focus on your inner thoughts and ignore what’s going on around you. No phones, no devices, no distractions. Allow your mind to wonder and wander. Scientists have found that right before a person has an “aha!” moment, there are brainwaves in an area of the brain which indicate that external information is reduced.

Don’t Worry…Be Happy

The prospect of making an important decision can induce a great deal of anxiety, which HUGELY stifles creative insight.  Being anxious creates a lot of “noise” in the brain, drowning out the space for insight. People tend to notice a wider range of information when they feel happy(ier) than when they feel concerned. If you’re not at your best when tackling a complex decision, do something to lift your spirits. Talk to a colleague, go for a walk, do something more enjoyable or take a nap. Then get back at ‘er.

Don’t deliberate

We tend to think long and hard before making an important decision. But insights often happen when we’re not actively making an effort to choose what to do.  Stepping away from deliberation seems to be key for quality decision-making. Taking a break from thinking about an issue may allow people to activate their deeper unconscious brain and continue to process the problem while moving on mentally to other tasks. Sometimes, consciously, we are considering the problem with the wrong strategy; using the unconscious mind helps to break this cycle.

By practicing leaving space for quiet, being internally focused, taking a positive approach, and not actively trying to have insight, our chances for “aha!” moments increase. And if that isn’t something worth winning, I don’t know what is.

Oh! Or “Aha!” And since this may be my last opportunity to share my thoughts with such a quality group of people (thank you for the privilege), I want to share a super quote with you (no more Dr. Seuss, at this time).

“I always tell the truth, although I sometimes confuse the facts.” – The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate.