Recently, I arranged to pick my friend up for a drink. He was back in town after a long time. He must have waited for me for about 10 minutes at our rendezvous point, getting baked in the scorching heat. As soon as he got into the car, he tried to adjust the AC duct on the passenger side and I immediately gave him my “don’t mess with the settings” look, from the corner of my eye. He simply responded, “I want it on my face!”.
You would probably have expected me to continue on a particular train of thought, perhaps a cheeky reply or a dirty joke, even. Either ways, it could have been a moment invoking laughter, except that it wasn’t. In fact, the effect was quite the opposite. I was ashamed. Ashamed of myself, for not replacing the broken knob on the AC duct, when I saw the perspiration dripping down his face. Not only did I miss out on a potential joke, it amplified the shame I was feeling. The entire situation could have been neutralized or even made enjoyable, with a simple “I always knew it” or “you totally have the face for it”
Later that day, I was reflecting on my day’s learnings and had an “AHA!” moment about Insights. I thought, “how many more of these moments must I be missing because of my emotional reactions to situations?” Now this was a far bigger problem than you initially think, especially, if you happen to be a Brand Strategist. At this point, the mindfulness movement would say “we keep telling ya!”. But the bitter truth is, it’s difficult. Our emotions are triggered instantly and more often than not, it’s difficult to tune in to unconscious signals. William James suggested that our experiences are like a stream of consciousness. If they were in “bursts of consciousness” it would have been easier, at least for insight miners like us. But this is what makes the search for insight a meaningful one worthy of pursuit.
So, what did I learn from this simple, stupid encounter?
1 1) No “simple, stupid” encounter is actually a simple or stupid one, because seemingly mundane situations can reveal a lot, provided you ask the right questions.
2 2) Understand how your mindset works. What are your most easily triggered emotions and thought patterns? Chances are, they act as blinders and you will miss out on connecting those critical dots that make the fresh connections. This is a massive blow to insights mining.
3 3) Overcome these negative emotions and patterns of thought, by challenging them. In my case, being self-conscious has cost me dearly. A long time ago, I wrote a book on insight mining and spent almost five years doing it. After much hard work, my partner secured several interested parties including Wiley and Random House, and eventually secured a contract from McGraw Hill. I was so insecure, paralyzed by my self-consciousness, that I never published it. I was skeptical of my ability to be successful. I was frightened of failing, because the scars would never heal and fade away, or so I thought. In stark contrast to this, last week we published, perhaps the first ever Insight mining course, online, drawing material from the unpublished manuscript as well as from cutting edge scientific research. What changed? It’s the realization that in the eye of existence, both success and failure will soon be forgotten and, in the end, just treated alike.
Want to become a better insight miner? Check out our Udemy course “Aha! A practical guide to have more insight” Or use the coupon code SANAKELIYA to get a surprise price:) Follow this page to master the craft of insight mining.