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The Dotted Line : Eureka! How to Make Discoveries

It’s What Happens Between the Dots


The ancient Greek word for “I have found it” is an exclamation that commonly marks a moment of sudden insight.  Around 230 B.C., Archimedes reportedly shouted “Eureka!” while stepping into a bath and first realizing that water displacement could reveal the density of objects. The scholar was so energized by his discovery that he ran home without first getting dressed. 

Moments of unexpected discovery feel accidental, but they’re actually made possible by accumulating knowledge (dots) and then determining the surprising ways seemingly isolated pieces of information relate to each other.
Your ability to make these connections is how you create value. 
I played a role in a Eureka! moment a few weeks ago while presenting a business strategy workshop in Cincinnati. As soon as I finished speaking, I could see Paola, with her face lit up, making a beeline toward me. She was excited to share that just that morning her communications team had met to discuss ways to make her company’s strategy accessible to employees, but they had not yet come up with a plan. My presentation offered ideas for bringing strategy to life and she was inspired to pursue one that incorporates a video technique that Paola’s own husband has expertise using.
For Paola, the dots were in front of her, but it was during my presentation that she was able to connect them.
That’s the power of connection and I want to help you make them.
First, realize that more dots aren’t always the answer. A deeper dive that entails additional article searches, books, and references might make you smarter on a a new topic, but it won’t necessarily help you connect the information to what you already know. To do that, also try:
1. Revisiting familiar favorites. Re-read the sections you highlighted in your most treasured business books, scroll through the archives of your favorite blog, or flip through your idea repository or article files. Looking at old information in a new way is how many accidental discoveries like Velcro and Viagra were made.
2. Talking about it. 
Researchers, and personal experience, suggest that outlining your challenge and exploring your options aloud, whether to yourself or to a partner using the Talking Aloud Partner Problem Solving (TAPPS) method, will help you achieve clarity. Selecting someone who is a good devil’s advocate is an approach I used yesterday to explore how best to deal with a difficult business matter.
3. Being quiet. 
Even when you think you’re concentrating on the problem at hand, it’s inevitable that your mind is in fact doing a couple dozen other tasks. Stop all the thoughts, including your obsession with your current challenge, and instead find the space between your thoughts. You’ll be amazed at what you find there. Although silencing the mind is hard and it takes practice, it’s also life changing.

4. Doing something else.
Science has figured out why your best ideas often arrive when you’re in the shower or exercising. The magic formula for creativity is dopamine production + relaxation + distraction of the conscious mind so that the subconscious mind can take over. Therefore, taking time to listen to music or engage in whatever activity delivers these three benefits isn’t procrastination at all. 
Your next great idea is lurking in one of these places, waiting to be found. But just in case you’re tempted to look elsewhere, you are very unlikely to make profound connections while:

  • watching a reality TV show
  • scrolling through your Facebook or Twitter feed
  • staring at a blank sheet of paper
  • sitting around a conference room table
  • reviewing a list of best practices
  • talking to people who are just like you
  • failing to have a plan for making connections
Dots Seeking Connections
Change Leadership and Communications Resources
Communicate Better to Grow Your Influence
from Simply Hired
No matter where you sit in the corporate hierarchy, you can learn to be more influential.
Don’t wait to get into the c-suite to change minds, impact the business and leave a lasting impression. Be influential immediately.
What Good Leaders Can Learn from Howard Stern
from LinkedIn
The most controversial and successful media personality of our time has evolved into a critically acclaimed interviewer. Building trust and deepening relationships are two of Howard Stern’s surprising skills.
Just like Howard does with his A-list celebrity guests, making your employees comfortable enough to share sensitive information is a hallmark of an exceptional leader, one who strives to improve the team’s – and perhaps the the entire company’s – effectiveness.
Tips for Picking Effective Storytelling Training
from Anecdote
Now that companies and professionals understand the power of storytelling, it seems everyone is offering storytelling training.
Knowing you need a story and actually learning the techniques and frameworks that will help you find, share, and elicit stories are two different things. If you’re vetting business storytelling training programs for your leaders, make sure the program contains these eight components.

Do these dots connect to your current challenges? 
Let me know.
I’d love to hear about the connections you’re making.
Listen Up! 
I was Jesse Lahey’s guest on the Engaging Leader podcast this week to discuss how stories open people’s minds to the idea of change.
During the 20-minute interview, I tell a few stories, share the science of storytelling, and demonstrate that facts are forgettable while stories are memorable as I try to recall how many times the plastic water bottles we throw away every year wrap around the earth. (Hint: I can’t remember because statistical evidence alone isn’t effective.)
Listen or download here or on iTunes.
Improve Your Influence in 2015
Let’s Connect 
ring either Storytelling for Leaders or the new Storytelling for Sales to your team, company, or corporate training academy. The next public workshop is in Boston on Thursday, March 26, 2015.

Book a speaker
on the topics of change communications, corporate culture, employee engagement, or business strategy.

Project Guidance

Request assistance
communicating and engaging stakeholders to make your next change project or new initiative a success.
Claim the one new spot I’ve opened for an executive who wants to learn communications and influence skills that will enhance their effectiveness in the boardroom, behind the podium, or across the desk. You’ll be led through a proven program that’s customized to your specific needs and current workplace challenges.

Happy Holidays

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, too

This year’s Rockefeller Center Christmas tree came from a few miles from my home.
Isn’t that an interesting connection?

For a holiday treat, I leave you with the touching story of how a wrong number, a sweet little boy, a gruff Army colonel whose heart softened, and a joke by some airmen began the
U.S. military’s annual tradition of tracking Santa on Christmas Eve. Enjoy!
Connected Strategy Group was founded by Amanda Marko, president and chief connection officer, to help leaders increase their influence through deeper connections that enhance the effectiveness of business strategy, change management, employee engagement, and corporate culture initiatives. Amanda recently became one of only a handful of people globally – and the first in the U.S. – to partner with Australia-based Anecdote to deliver their Storytelling for Leaders program. Storytelling complements her consulting work to help leaders better influence, engage, and inspire others.

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