We`ve all heard the phrase a “flash of inspiration” or a “flash of brilliance”

We`ve all heard the phrase a “flash of inspiration” or a “flash of brilliance”. I don`t know where those phrases came from exactly, but they create a perfect metaphor.

Think about the flash from a camera (or if you are old enough, from a disposable flashbulb).

Some spark or electrical charge provides the impetus for the flash to go off. At that precise moment the camera takes a picture, capturing the moment more effectively and more vividly because of the flash. Once the camera has created the picture (with the help of the flash) you can look at it and eventually, if it is a good picture, you will share it with others.

I`m suggesting that we think about our ideas – our “flashes of brilliance” – the same way.

The Four Steps to Capturing Your Brilliance
Just like the camera needs its flash, you also need your flashes. And just like the camera, you must use them correctly. Let me get a little clearer and a bit less metaphorical.

Step 1 – Ignite it. To take pictures, the camera sends an impulse to the flash unit to ignite the bulb. Your personal ignition switch is more subtle and not always so immediate. You will ignite more flashes when you have a clear goal. When you know what you want to achieve, and why, you set your subconscious mind searching. With your goals in place, you can use your skills and habits of observation and asking questions to ignite more ideas.

Step 2 – Capture it. The camera captures the image at the same moment the flash goes off. How often have you had an idea – a flash of brilliance – and lost it almost immediately? Your flashes are of no use (and may become a source of frustration) if you don`t capture them. You must write down your insights and ideas immediately! Your subconscious mind has found an answer and if you don`t get it captured, it could be gone forever. You can use a journal, a post-it, a napkin or whatever. Just get your ideas down – you won`t regret it!

Step 3 – Review it. After you`ve taken a picture you look at it (that`s why you took it in the first place, right?) With digital cameras today you can review your pictures immediately. You can do the same for your ideas. Once you have written them down, you can look at them now AND later. I suggest you do both. Looking at your idea, solution or brilliant flash now helps you lock it into your mind, and lets your mind keep working on it. Looking at it later helps you reflect and determine exactly how you will use this idea, if at all.

Step 4 – Use it. If you decide the picture is good enough, meaningful enough, funny enough or important enough, you share it with others. After all a good picture is defined in part by whether you want to share it. The same is true for your ideas. If they are good enough you need to share them, which really means try it or put it to use.

These four steps will help you get more flashes, and take much better advantage of them when they strike. Whether the idea you find makes a new recipe, a new product, a better weekend or a better workplace, none of them will be of any use if you don`t put them to use. Using this metaphor and these four steps will make a difference in your results!

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