Business Adept Blogs

Intuition - Sleeping On It

In my book much of what we call intuition is actually subconscious processing of information (which may be subconscious knowledge). A good example is when we sleep on a problem and wake up with the answer. Another is when, in the middle of worrying about an issue, we are distracted for a while and, immediately after returning to the concern, we find a solution.

In both cases we have given our subconscious brain time to do its stuff. It’s a phenomenon that I’ve used deliberately and extensively. 

The earliest case I remember was from school days. (I don’t remember much from so far back so it left a big impression!) Our maths teacher liked to set homework beyond our current level of competence – this time a complex algebra question with many variables. I struggled with it all evening without identifying which element was ‘x’ – essential to determining a solution, as you know. Frustratingly, I was sent to bed before finding the key.

The subconscious mind can’t do maths but it is excellent at recognising and interpreting patterns. In the morning I woke knowing which element was ‘x’. After that calculating the solution was easy, peasy.  And, to blow my own trumpet, I was the only one in the class to solve the problem.

This experience taught me the value of ‘sleeping on it’. I used the technique deliberately from then on.

I expect most of you have had similar experiences. If you would like to share, it would be great to hear from you.