June 29, 2022

Insight isn’t as mysterious we make it out to be


The nature and origin of insightful thinking, the cognitive neuroscience that drives the insight process, not to mention the history of how artists successfully used insight to fuel innovation, are all widely documented.

But here’s the part of the process we miss.

Developing insight is only half the work. Delivering it is the other half.

And if our job as leaders and innovators and thinkers and advisors is to contribute meaningfully to the growth and well being of every person connected to us, we can’t just disappear into our own heads.

Insight is a social transaction. It’s not just theory, it’s theater. It requires motion.

The sharing of our thinking is the act of gratitude that finishes the labor. Once we create that pivotal moment with our audience, when the intellectual meets the interpersonal, when we deliver insight in such a way that it becomes fundamental to someone’s worldview, we start to make a real difference in people’s lives.

I’ve seen it happen. Dozens of times. And on both sides of the insight coin, too.

I’ve had conversations with people whose insight sent shockwaves through my system and changed my life for the better, and I’ve had conversations with people who said that one of my insights changed the way they approached their work for the better.

And the same patterns always emerge:

Insights that are delivered in interesting, packaged, original, actionable and relatable ways, exert the greatest amount of influence.

Next time you go to work creating insight for your audience, consider these five categories as a strategic audit for your delivery process:


· How provocative is your word choice?
· How dangerous are the ideas behind your words?
· Are you offering a new way of looking at a problem?
· Does your insight give perspective or just information?
· What is your audience’s physical, bodily reaction to your insight?


· Is your insight inherently rhythmic and easily repeatable?
· How much time did you spend on the theater of presenting the insight?
· Does your insight gain weight and truthfulness with each mental repetition?
· Are you delivering the right message, in the right place, at the right time, to the right person, in the right proportion?


· Does your insight contain meaningful concrete immediacy?
· What are you connecting your insight to that helps it travel?
· How does your insight make people proud to take the first step?
· Will your insight make people think, I believe this, I can do this and I want to try this?


· Is your story big and important enough to believe?
· Can people easily superimpose their own meaning onto your story?
· Do your words equip people to spot the new story with their own eyes?
· What’s already in your audience’s head that you can hang your insight next to?
· How does your insight expresses what others can’t think, say or feel on their own?


· Have you googled your insight to gauge its uniqueness?
· Does your insight contain any recycled language or secondhand wisdom?
· Have you coined a new word, and therefore, created a new world?
· Do you understand this insight with your life, fully believing what you understand and incapable of disbelieving it?

That’s the difference maker. Combining intellectual development with interpersonal delivery.

Real insight requires both.