From WTF!?! to AHA!!

by | Feb 11, 2015 | Strictly Business Blog

Last week I had an AHA moment that could have easily become an OMG! WTF!! moment.

While putting together my slides for my “Rebooting your Business Brain 2.0” seminar for the ASMP Houston chapter, my Keynote presentation (Apple’s version of PowerPoint) endured a terminal crash. Despite 4.5 hrs. with a senior tech support specialist at Apple (which even included reinstalling the software), I was told my files could not be recovered; I had to rebuild the entire presentation from scratch–less than 48 hrs. before I was to appear on stage.

Anyone reading this post likely has their own version of a similar Murphy’s law software or hardware meltdown. In fact, I’ve had it happen in the past, too–but not nearly as spectacular in its timing as this time. It usually has caused a thunderstorm of emotional stress and negative emotions.

But this time my experience was different.

Those who know me well, or who heard me speak last week, know that I’m a recent fan of the regular practice of meditation and also a fan of neuroscience. Mainstream media has had many recent reports of leaders in both the arts and in business who are urging their followers to embrace the practice of meditation and science backs them up.

In his documentary film, Meditation, Creativity and Peace, filmmaker, artist, and musician, David Lynch, a meditator for over 40 years, shares how Transcendental Meditation has powerfully supported his creative process. (If you want to know what meditation actually does to your brain, there’s an interesting explanation at about the halfway point during the 40 min. Q&A video about the film.)

The Harvard Business Review’s recent article “Mindfulness Can Literally Change Your Brain” goes deeper into reporting on the effects that meditation has on rewiring the brain’s neural connections which can lead to more effective business management skills. The recommendation is that: “Mindfulness should no longer be considered a “nice-to-have” for executives. It’s a “must-have”:  a way to keep our brains healthy, to support self-regulation and effective decision-making capabilities, and to protect ourselves from toxic stress.”

And that’s where I got my AHA! moment. I realized that my many months of meditation had literally rewired my brain. When the “stuff” hit the fan and my presentation was lost, I did not react in the manner that I had during past tech crises. I did not freak out. My brain had been rewired.

With a calm mind that is the benefit of meditation, I was able to stay out of fear, panic and negativity–psychological states that I know do not create the conditions necessary to solve a problem effectively. When you are calm and fully present to a challenging situation, you bring your creative best to the situation and are therefore more able to discern and intuit novel ways to solve the problem.

Consider the camera equipment or imaging software failures you’ve endured in the course of your career. Has a negative mental state ever produced a great creative product? It seems that when the mind is present, calm, and grateful that creative insights and good works usually arrive.

I realized it’s up to me to create and maintain the fertile mental ground to support those mental states but when I do, new solutions magically appear. Aha!!