How Inventors Overcome Obstacles
Roadblocks are a part of the process as an inventor or entrepreneur. Grit and perseverance are part of the recipe for success. But what if I told you there were neuroscience tools that you could use to boost your creativity not only to come up with great new ideas for products but to help you over all the other obstacles that stand in the way of your success!
I’ve licensed 7 of my own products and consulted 1000’s of inventors and we all share this common dilemma, at some point shit gets real and there are serious challenges and roadblocks that get in our way and we have to PUSH through every one of those challenges to become successful.
I recently did a video on “When to push, pivot or walk away” and you can catch that here or in the description below, but today I want to drill down on pushing through challenges and how to find inspiration to overcome every roadblock!
Maybe, you’ve never heard of Brain Default Network Mode before, but you should be familiar with it. You experience it every day. It’s what you sense as the voice in your head. It is the source of incredible inspiration and creativity. But, unfortunately it can also show up as critical self-talk and sound like “I can’t do that”, “ That was a foolish thing to say”, or“ Why did I do that! I’m so stupid”.
These inner dialogs are always with us. They all come from that nagging, always-on, defeatist voice that never shuts up. In Eastern Traditions, it’s called the “Monkey Mind.” Science describes the voice as coming from the default mode network or DMN. But there is a way to harness its power and optimize it to become a successful inventor and entrepreneur.
Daniel Kahneman is a psychologist and professor who has done extensive research in the field of judgment and decision making. In his book “Thinking fast and slow” he approaches how our brains work as 2 systems and DMN is described in System 1.
System 1 represents the automatic and intuitive process of the brain. So, while it is the “voice in our head” that can be condemning it is also the source of our inspiration and creativity!
System 2 represents the process of the brain that requires effort and attention. It’s where we learn and focus on the tactical steps to execute on our ideas.
The 2 systems each have their own innate abilities, limitations and functions. They work together to minimize brain, work and optimize our performance.
System 1 cannot be turned off, it’s always on and running in the background with either creative inspiration or critical voices both of which are heavily influenced by how we have been programmed growing up. It’s our autopilot.
And, working with system 1, system 2 creates orderly steps that we have the choice to take action on with empirical data, or what we believe to be factual knowledge. There are some vital tasks that only system 2 can perform because they require us to put the effort in and exercise self-control.
So, we become enlightened and inspired in the first system, and then have the choice to take action steps on that inspiration in the second system, make sense?
So, what can knowing this do for our business?
First of all, I believe that just realizing what is happening in your mind gives you the power to harness it to truly have an incredible life. Defining how our brain works as 2 systems gives us a framework to become consciously competent, capturing creativity and then harnessing it with our cognitive skills and abilities.
If we spend all our time focusing on the steps to take (engaging system 2 in our minds) by learning the factual steps and tasks necessary to be successful, we may take action on that initial brilliant idea we had, but we can become mentally and emotionally fatigued and quit before becoming successful. We will run out of the fuel to push through the rough days.
Think of System 1 as the fuel in our gas tanks and system 2 as the navigation in our cars. They work together to get us where we want to go.
Have you ever noticed yourself getting tired when you concentrate for a long period of time?
It’s called Directed attention fatigue (DAF) and it’s a neuro-psychological phenomenon that results from overuse of the brain's inhibitory attention mechanisms, which handle incoming distractions while maintaining focus on a specific task.
When you feel stuck or you hit a roadblock that you just don’t know how to fix…and it WILL happen as an inventor, Cognitive strain is NOT going to get you over the wall not to mention, intense focus can make you blind to other things. We need to take a mental break from focusing on the problem and allow ourselves instead to be inspired with a solution.
There are so many scientifically proven techniques to do this, meditation, 10-90 min naps, positive constructive daydreaming, even something called psychological halloweenism. I prefer meditation and intentional distractions with low-key work that I can do without putting much thought into it so that my brain can rest and wonder playfully, like gardening, laundry, or going for a walk.
When you do this deliberately, it will boost your creativity, strengthen your leadership ability, and also-re-energize the brain.
According to an article from Harvard Business Review: “When you unfocus, you engage a brain circuit called the “default mode network.” Abbreviated as the DMN, we used to think of this circuit as the Do Mostly Nothing circuit because it only came on when you stopped focusing effortfully. Yet, when “at rest”, this circuit uses 20% of the body’s energy (compared to the comparatively small 5% that any effort will require).
Under the brain’s conscious radar, it activates old memories, goes back and forth between the past, present, and future, and recombines different ideas. Using this new and previously inaccessible data, you develop enhanced self-awareness and a sense of personal relevance.”
The result, according to that same HBR article is that “you have allowed the most creative and inspired part of your brain to gain access to new and previously inaccessible data. And you can imagine creative solutions or predict the future, leading to better decision-making too. DMN also helps you tune into other people’s thinking, improving team understanding and cohesion.
Can you see how that will improve your creativity and help you properly protect your ideas and pitch prospects for licensing?!
Think about that, we need to actually STOP THINKING to clear our heads so that we can make room for spontaneous and creative thought flow, and those insights then lead the way for our success!
And that’s how you get into a creative state of flow and are either inspired…almost magically with a new idea like it was downloaded into your brain, or maybe the inspiration is just finally what to put into google so you can find the answers you are looking for but didn’t know how to search for before.
Listen, being and inventor and entrepreneur comes with problems. People don’t do what they say they will for you. Prototypes don’t work the way you expected. The patent office fights you on your patent. Companies don’t respond to you. The list goes on and on. And the same creativity you tapped into to invent a cool new product can and should be called on to work everything else out.
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