In a world where so much is changing so fast, we need new ways to make sense of what is happening.
To cope with this, our conscious, rational minds will tend to seek out facts and figures. But as the start of the Covid-19 pandemic showed, in a time of change those facts and figures might not always be available, they might not be accurate, and they might not mean what we think they mean.
Even worse, our conscious rational minds will try to make sense of what is happening based on the ways the world used to work. And in a changing world those assumptions may no longer hold true. We once assumed, for example, that catching Covid-19 would make us immune. We assumed that Russia would easily defeat Ukraine. In a changing world our assumptions can easily turn out to be wrong.
The good news is that our rational minds are not the only reliable method we have for making sense of the world. When top sportspeople respond in a split second to put the ball exactly where they want it to go they aren’t using their conscious, rational minds. They are using their unconscious, intuitive minds.
In the same way, our own unconscious minds are already spotting the new patterns that are emerging all around us. This means that we will be able to lead ourselves better through that change if we learn to draw on the power of our unconscious intuition.
One way to do this is by using a tool called Morning Pages.
The way it works is very simple:
- Sit down with pen and paper, first thing in the morning, before your conscious mind is fully awake
- Write out longhand whatever comes into your mind, until you have filled three sides of paper: don’t think, don’t edit, just write whatever comes into your mind
- At the end, check back and make a note of anything that seems significant
- Get on with your day
This simple process will bring you three major benefits:
- First, you get any nagging worries out of your head and down on to paper. This makes you calmer and brings you a clearer mind, enabling you to get on with your day
- Second, writing without thinking often surfaces unexpected insights
- And third, as well as bringing you a better understanding of what is happening, Morning Pages often bring solutions
It may seem counter-intuitive that such a simple process of not thinking should work. But as as Einstein said,
“There is no logical path to [new insights] — only intuition… can reach them.”
And as the journalist Oliver Burkeman says, he was sceptical about Morning Pages at first but now he wishes he’d started years ago.
Is your conscious mind is struggling to find the answer to a problem? Is it worth trying Morning Pages, to see what answers your unconscious intuition brings?
Adapted from Inner Leadership: a framework and tools for building inspiration in times of change.
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(And remember: you can’t learn to swim just by reading about swimming, you also need to do the practice.)