Listen to Your Subconscious Mind

Listen to Your Subconscious MindIf you study the lives of people who have had Eureka moments, you’ll discover that their breakthroughs almost always came after extended periods of intense, conscious effort.

They worked, they noodled, they struggled. They abandoned all hope, they recommitted — and then the breakthrough came. And often at the most unexpected of moments.

They weren’t buying lottery tickets at their local deli, hoping to win a breakthrough fortune. They were digging for treasure in their own back yard.

Rene Descartes (Mr. “I-Think-Therefore-I-Am”) got the Scientific Method revealed to him in a dream. Elias Howe arrived at the final design for the lock stitch sewing machine in a dream. Richard Wagner got the idea his uber work, Das Rhinegold, while stepping onto a bus after long months of creative despair.

In other words, the conscious mind works overtime in an attempt to solve a problem or achieve a goal. Unable to come up with the solution, the challenge gets outsourced to the subconscious mind, which then proceeds to figure things out in its own, sweet time.

Of course, all of this assumes we are listening to that still small voice of wisdom within us.

Well then, what’s a not-so-still, left-brained, bottom-line-watching business person to do if he wants to increase the odds of tapping into his inner Einstein.

Here’s a start:

This week, keep a log of your most inspired ideas, intuitions, and dreams. When something pops for you (an inspired thought, an inkling, a sudden insight) write it down — even if it doesn’t make sense. Then, at the end of the week, read your log.

Look for clues. Notice patterns. Make new connections. See what insights come to mind — and if they do, let us know.

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Mitch DitkoffMitch Ditkoff is the Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions and the author of “Awake at the Wheel”, as well as the very popular Heart of Innovation blog.

Mitch Ditkoff




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  1. David M. Kasprzak on May 24, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    A great suggestion, Mitch. I’d like to add that the journal doesn’t just have to be words, either. If you have an image in your mind, draw it. Even a simple stick-figure sketch can convery a lot. The very process of drawing it can help you figure it out those oh-so-interesting patterns and connections later on.

  2. Jim Wawro on May 24, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    Great post!

    I take the concept a bit further and suggest that anyone can call on intuition whenever they need it. See

    Jim Wawro

  3. Scott Simmerman on May 25, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    Good thinking and nicely stated.

    Personally, even with a doctorate in neurobiology / psychology, I have never been a big believer in this “sub-conscious mind” stuff. We all have unique ways of dealing with information, though, and sometimes things are not verbal or not visual or some such thing and I think we miss the connections.So tracking in some way is useful, plus an idea can stimulate another idea and so forth. That is why collaborative innovation can be so much better than trying to do it solo.

    Over the years, I have been playing with cartoons as a tool for building conversations and ideas. The concept is really simple: Imagine a wooden wagon being pulled by a guy with a rope and being pushed by people from behind. The wagon rolls on wooden Square Wheels®” – the cargo is round rubber tires.

    After using this a few years, someone pointed out to me that this line and ink drawing actually works like an organizational Rorschach Test, that this “inkblot” has no reality of its own and that people project their beliefs about what it represents onto it. People see what they see and hear what they hear and think what they think and there are lots of differences in how things are perceived.

    What I will (often) do is link the illustration to an organizational theme like innovation or quality or teamwork and push the people in a desired direction a little. And think about this: I have collected more than 300 different responses and perceptions as to what the illustration means or what people see. Some immediately jump on the issue of productivity, while others look at teamwork or trust. Pretty amazing that so many people can see so many different things.

    When we anchor this illustration to themes of what things do not work smoothly from your perspective (Square Wheels) and what can be done differently (What are the Round Wheels that we might use), we can generate some really innovative discussions.

    Personally, I think innovation is a collaborative adventure for a lot of reasons. The more we can help people focus on new ways of doing things in the workplace, the better we can do things in the workplace.

    Lastly, I believe in the concept of “continuous continuous improvement,” and that having “improved” is most assuredly not the occasion to stop thinking about improvements.

    Lots of articles at and some simple tools at

    Have fun out there!

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