In a world where so much is changing so fast, we need new ways to make sense of what is happening around us.
Our conscious, rational minds will tend to seek out facts, numbers, data. But as we learned at the start of the Covid-19 outbreak, those numbers might not be available, they might not be accurate, and they might not mean what we think they mean.
Our conscious, rational minds will also try to make sense of change of things according to the way the world used to work. And in a changing world these assumptions might no longer hold true. We once assumed, for example, that catching Covid-19 would provide immunity in future. But it then turned out that people can catch Covid-19 twice, often with worse symptoms the second time. And nobody expected ‘long COVID’. Our old assumptions just didn’t hold true.
The bottom line is: in a changing world our rational minds might not have all the answers.
The good news is that our rational minds are not the only reliable method we have for understanding the world. When top sportspeople respond in a split second to put the ball exactly where they want it to go they don’t think about it consciously. They use their instinctive, unconscious minds. And they train themselves to be able to do so well.
In the same way, in this time of change, our unconscious minds are already spotting the new patterns that are emerging around us. The only problem is, we’re not conscious of them yet.
So if we want to lead ourselves and other people better through this time of change it is useful to find new ways of connecting with the power of our unconscious intuition — just like top sportspeople do.
Exercise, creativity, meditation, and spending time in nature all build a deeper connection with our unconscious minds. But this can take weeks.
A more immediate approach is to use a technique called Morning Pages.
This is very simple:
- Sit down with paper and pen first thing in the morning, before your conscious mind is fully awake
- Then write out longhand whatever comes into your mind, until you have filled three sides of paper
- Make a note of anything that seems significant
- And get on with your day
The benefits come in three stages:
- First, you get any nagging worries out of your head and down on to paper. That makes you calmer and brings a clearer mind, which allows you to get on with your day undistracted.
- Second, writing without thinking often surfaces unexpected insights: things you had forgotten or not realised you knew. In this way, your unconscious mind can often be wiser than your conscious mind.
- And third, as well as finding better understanding of what is happening, Morning Pages will also often bring solutions.
As journalist Oliver Burkeman says, he was sceptical at first but now he wishes he’d started years ago.
After all, many people have called intuition the highest form of intelligence. And as Einstein himself said,
“There is no logical path to [finding new laws]; only intuition … can reach them.”
If your conscious mind is struggling to find the answer to a problem, why not try using Morning Pages to call on the power of your unconscious intuition?
Adapted from Inner Leadership: a framework and tools for building inspiration in times of change.
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(And remember: you don’t learn to swim by reading about swimming, you also need to practice.)