5 Tricks For Going From Impasse To Insight

The suit man and vinyl.Do you ever feel like a broken record repeating the same tune over and over…and over again? It feels as if you can’t get away from your one and only idea. No matter how hard you try you are stuck at an impasse, unable to push the brain forward.


Some call it an impasse; others might describe it as stuck in a rut. No matter what you call it, it’s your inability in that moment to move past the first idea or concept that came to your mind.  You know it’s not the right idea yet you can’t get past it. No matter how hard you try, the same thought is on constant repeat in your mind.


I’ve been reading this great book, Your Brain At Work by David Rock.  It talks about the impasse and how the brain does get stuck in cycles that seem hard to get out of. The synapses have fired in a certain way and now they are on repeat.  In order to get out of broken record mode you need to give your subconscious mind a chance to work and let your conscious mind rest or focus on something else.


Getting from impasse to insight can be one of the toughest challenges people face in brainstorm meetings or while working on a solution to a challenge. Have you ever noticed how Jill or Gary seem to repeat the same idea in different variations all day? They may not realize it, but they are at an impasse. What you really want out of Jill, Gary and yourself is the ability to generate multiple, seemingly random or different ideas.


With a few easy tools you can train your brain to go form impasse to insight quickly and smoothly. Sometimes all it takes is the snap of a finger or the flip of a switch.  I play in ideas all day long so here are a few of my favorite tools:


  1. 18 Minutes of Ted: Not only are the videos inspiring and informative but they can also help you expand your thinking and get to those ahas. Work on your challenge or idea and when you get to that critical impasse, take 18-minutes and watch a random Ted video. I bet you’ll find random ideas popping into you head during and after the video.


  1.  Draw it out: Sometimes we get stuck on words that take us in a certain direction and we can’t get off that path. The next time you are at an impasse grab a bunch of scented markers and start drawing your thinking. The act of drawing will fire up your creative mind and help you see things in a whole new light.


  1. Go for a walk: I know, the oldest trick in the book but it works. Go outside for 5-minutes, take a walk around the block, go up a few flights of stairs.  Get that blood flowing and the body moving and the mind will follow. The change in activity and scenery will move you past impasse to innovation.


  1. Think about nothing: Weird right? Try meditating for 10-minutes and think about absolutely nothing at all. Close your eyes, breathe deep and clear your mind. Now, if you are like me you have a hard time drowning out the noise in your head and 10-minutes begins to feel like an eternity of thinking about all the tasks you should be doing. I’ve discovered that using a simple chant can help push out the thoughts for clarity and space. I use, “open space, clear mind.” I say it over and over until my timer beeps. A clear mind can move you past the impasse and into new territory.


  1. Laugh out loud: When all else fails I find that laughter truly is the best medicine. It releases feel good hormones, puts you in an optimistic mood and fires off new synapses (and new ideas) in the mind. Watch one of the ridiculous cat videos on YouTube or have a friend tell you their favorite joke. Spend the next 10-minutes laughing and then get back to work. The impasse will disappear before you know it.



How do you get from impasse to insight? Share with The LaunchStreet community in the comments section.


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