Many great breakthroughs have come in dreams.
Rene Descartes got the concept for the Scientific Method in a dream. Elias Howe came up with the final design for the lock stitch sewing machine in a dream. August Kekule arrived at the formulation of the Benzene molecule in a dream.
In the dream state, the subconscious mind arrives at solutions that the conscious mind is unlikely to discover during the daily grind — no matter much it obsesses, gathers data, or blames the “organization.”
That’s why Thomas Edison and Salvadore Dali used to take naps during the day. They knew they got their best ideas in dreams, so they decided to wake up more than once a day. Yes!
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
- Before going to bed tonight, bring to mind a compelling question, challenge, or opportunity that you’ve been wrestling with.
- As you fall asleep, stay focused on it.
- When you awake, write your dream down, even if it makes no sense.
- Stay in bed for a few minutes and reflect on each element of your dream. See if you can make any connections to the question you asked before going to sleep. If so… write them down.
I once asked a group of chemical engineers to remember their dreams after the first day of a two-day creative thinking training I was leading.
Before the session started on the second day, one of the engineers — with a huge grin on his face — asked if he could address the full group and proceeded to explain that, the night before, he dreamed the solution to an engineering problem he’d been wrestling with for two years.
With great excitement, he then drew the solution on a flipchart, complete with detailed schematics. His collaborator, also attending the training, just sat there, completely speechless. Then they both started laughing.
“The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ but ‘That’s funny!'” – Isaac Asimov
Technique excerpted from Awake at the Wheel.
Mitch Ditkoff is the Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions and the author of “Awake at the Wheel”, as well as the very popular Heart of Innovation blog.