Creativity expert Michael Michalko writes in his book Thinkertoys
that in our era of rapid change, intuitive skills are more important than ever.
To use your intuition to solve a problem, “you have to believe that you already have the answer in your unconscious.”
As Michalko points out, it’s as if you misplaced your watch in your house, and you know that if you keep looking you’ll eventually find it. The knowledge that the watch is there will lead you in your search to find it – this is different from the perspective: Is there a watch in the house?
One technique to solve problems using your intuition is an exercise he calls “brainwriting” – here’s how to use it in 7 simple steps:
- Find a quiet and relaxing spot.
- Write down the challenge you’re dealing with in 1 or 2 sentences.
- Spend a few minutes writing down some questions that are relevant to your challenge (e.g., What is in my best interest? What should I do? What are other alternatives? Which alternative do I prefer?).
- For each question, wait for the answer to come to you. It may come as a voice in your mind, and may even seem like you’re communicating with someone else.
- Write down all the answers that occur to you – don’t stop to analyze them.
- Continue asking questions and jotting down your unfiltered answers until you can’t come up with any more responses.
- Finally, review what you’ve written – the answer to your challenge may be there.
Michalko gives the example of an owner of a diet center who used brainwriting to come up with solutions to the challenge: In what ways might I develop a new diet product?
Two of her responses were:
- People drink a lot of water when they diet.
- People exercise with weights as they diet.
Together, these two responses sparked an idea for a new diet product: “One-pound water-weights that carry liquid in plastic bottles for exercise now and refreshment later.”
Note: We wrote about a similar technique, Claudia Altucher’s 10 ideas per day exercise, in a previous issue.