“Learn to pause, or nothing worthwhile will catch up to you.” -Doug King. Have you ever worked so hard on something or thought so much about it that you felt nearly paralyzed? I have. It can feel like the momentum is sucked right out of you. In cases like that, I know it’s time to step back and let the power of incubation take over.
When we work things too hard using our left brain, or more logical side, we can stifle our right, more creative side of our brain. So, when you feel stuck, tired, or like you are losing some steam, step away from your work and let it incubate. Stop thinking about it, adjourn your meeting for a later date, and take a shower, a nap or a jog. Allow your mind to think about other things. This wakes up the creative part of your brain to begin working on it when you aren’t even aware.
Sometimes the solution comes when you least expect it. Have you ever had a dream where the solution is right there? Or how about you’re driving down the road and you see a sign or site that clicks something in gear for you? That’s the power of incubation. Don’t lose those opportunities. That’s your brain’s way of telling you that it’s time to get back to it. Wake up or pull over and take some notes. Don’t lose that opportunity if you can help it.
There are also ways to keep you from getting stuck in the first place. One of the biggest culprits is to expect too much from a single meeting or thinking episode. To expect a team, for example, to come up with a new idea and figure out how it should be implemented in one sitting is asking for a meltdown. Chunk your work into manageable bites so that you can make steady progress. When working on mission statements, for example. I always ask the teams to get the gist of the mission down, then we purposefully step back, let it incubate and edit for eloquence at another meeting. Having a break from it clears your mind and helps you think about it again with fresh eyes. ‘Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone. – Alan Watts.
I regularly design incubation into my consulting and coaching process. Pace out your work and allow it to have a steady amount of energy. Remember that greatness takes time. “There is a moment of conception and a moment of birth, but between them, there is a long period of gestation.” Jonas Salk. So, let your ideas incubate, your brilliance is waiting!