Aha Moments Ahead: How Multisensory Experiences Can Transform Your Journey Through Pivotal Life Changes

As an internal executive coach and organizational development consultant I find my work to be a balance of art and science. How?

The Power of Aha:

When guiding leaders and teams, my job often is to help them make connections to arrive at their own insight, or 'aha moment'. This illumination creates motivation and then committed action.  We have all experienced an 'aha moment'. Think back to when you first learned to ride a two-wheeled bicycle, something clicked and after all that hard work, riding a bike is now simple muscle memory. As a coach, that's where I want to lead my clients. But how do we get to these 'aha moments' and can we create them for ourselves. Today, I dive into the science and art and offer how you may create your own stroke of brilliance.

Let's start with science: neuroscience fascinates me.  Aha moments are flashes of insight, sudden bursts of understanding that exhibit their own unique brain wave pattern (literally a burst of gamma waves). And have a discrete location, the right brain, where we store more figurative associations. Subconsciously, this creative side of our brain is always looking for connections. One origin of aha moments is when an environmental factor subconsciously ignites an association with something already stored in the brain's right hemisphere. The neurotransmitter, dopamine (involved with reward processes) is emitted.  Which also leads to curiosity and a willingness to learn.  

Said another way, to take any kind of committed action, people need to think things through for themselves. People experience a degree of inertia around thinking for themselves due to the energy required. The act of having an aha moment gives off the kind of energy needed for people to become motivated and willing to take action. Our job as leaders should be to try to help people make new connections for themselves. - Adapted from Quiet Leadership - By David Rock

Here is where the art comes in: multisensory experiences are impressions formed by specific events, whose sensory elements have been carefully crafted. Much of what I do is design and facilitate such experiences.  They usually include questions, storytelling, and other elements, to create relevant, engaging, and insightful encounters, (with groups or individuals) meant to help them think things through, stimulate their imagination and encourage active participation.  This involves and stimulates their senses, which ideally leads them to their own insights or aha moments.

Multisensory experiences are powerful because they create enriching environments for aha moments to subconsciously thrive along with strong positive emotions.  And positive emotions are fuel for our journey through life's changes.

Three recent multi-sensory experiences come to mind for me. One that most of us participated in, whether we recognized it as that or not. One that was created for me. And one that I created.

Super Bowl

Recently, while watching the Super Bowl, it struck me. Talk about a “picture- in picture- in picture” multi-sensory experience. Many of us watched, or at least knew it was happening.  The game itself was the main event, correct? Or was it the Usher half-time show, the Kelce family, or the Travis/Taylor story that permeated throughout, or the commercials, or the party where you may have watched it, or the smell and taste of the food you ate while watching?  I can't recall who won Super Bowls in years past, but I can recall where I was, who I was with, what we ate, etc.  Perhaps that's always why Super Bowl ads are effective. Advertisers are banking on a large audience but also the emotional state of the viewers. The experience holds our attention, and they hope it pays off by moving us to action in some way.  An insight I had was, it's really about the company you keep and the community that makes it memorable. That got me reflecting on my Disney career.

Disney Service Award Celebration

Many of you know that I recently wrapped up an awesome 35-year career that felt like a blink.  My husband and I attended my final Disney Service Award celebration a few weeks ago. It was the icing on the cake! Many companies honor their employees for years of dedicated service.  But when your company is in the business of making magic, they choose to make magic for the honorees in a uniquely special way.  Which evokes feelings of wonder, delight, and immense pride. The insights I had were, the community of people that were there (senior leaders, fellow honorees and guests, and Cast Members working that night) made that evening memorable.  And marking milestone moments is important as we reflect on and celebrate where we have been and where we are going on life's journey.

Creating a MYA “Aha”

That leads me to My Aspirement (MYA). You may have heard me say that MYA is on a mission to reimagine how women perceive and experience pivotal life changes, (like retirement, empty nests, job changes, etc.).  How we are doing this is as important as what we are doing.  Last month, we set out to share more about MYA. Instead of just telling, we set up a “pop up” Manifest Your Aspirations event for women to experience MYA, in an immersive, multi-sensory, casual, yet meaningful way. This was intended to help the attendees to think differently about their future aspirations and move them to action in their own lives.  One attendee commented, “what a fun and inspirational experience, I'm going to start that book I have always dreamed of writing!” We chose The House on Lang as the venue because it is the manifestation of an aspiring dream come true for the owners.  What a great way to showcase the possibility of manifesting your aspirations, by stepping into a thriving example.  Many of you asked if we would be doing it again soon.  And yes, more to come!

Finding the Aha.  

How might you create more aha moments for yourself?  Seek aspiration, reflection, and action.  And it doesn't have to be overly complicated.  Consider a few simple ideas:

  • Seek New- Purposefully seek out new experiences and or information.  Maybe through different activities or interacting with new people.
  • Make Space- Do something else, unrelated to a change you may be facing.  Perhaps a walk on a nature trail, or a visit to a local farmers market. Give your subconscious brain the space it needs to work.
  • Connect Datapoints- Seek more insight not more input.  Consider how to connect the dots of existing pieces of information.
  • Notice Assumptions- Get clear on the assumptions you are making.  Let go of them or reverse them to see new perspectives and possibilities.
  • Journaling- There are so many benefits to getting thoughts into writing. Check out our freebie- Life Change Journal Prompts

What aha moments have you had? Where were you or what were you experiencing when they happened? And what have been their impact in your life?  

At My Aspirement, we encourage you to stay in touch with us by following us on social, and through our communications.