Anatomy of an Epiphany

Toward developing better solutions.

Posted Nov 17, 2019

Pixabay, Public Domain
Source: Pixabay, Public Domain

Sometimes brilliant solutions just pop into a person’s head out of nowhere.

Those may be beyond our control, but we may be able to generate epiphanies if we consciously use a process akin to developing a fine wine: raw ingredients, filtration, fermentation, and evaluation.

I’m a career counselor, so, as an example, let’s take my typical client who wants to figure out what career to pursue.

Raw ingredients: We create a master list of the client’s past accomplishments, current skills, interests, values, personal and familial limitations, plus any changes s/he’d like to make moving forward—We're not necessarily chained to our past.

Filtration: Because it’s impossible to consider everything, and because we want the most important factors to dominate the decision, we filter out all but the most important few factors. I frequently ask the client, “So among all of these, what are your non-negotiables, good-to-haves, and optionals?”

Fermentation: The client leaves the session with an invitation to let those few career building blocks ferment. In the coming days, s/he’ll turn over various permutations of them, perhaps adding back one or two of the filtered factors. She’ll do that consciously and perhaps subconsciously, the ideas rolling around in her head, maybe even during sleep.

Evaluation. If the client is lucky, a fine wine of a career will have emerged. If it’s just an okay “wine,” we may add a factor, and if it’s vinegar, we’ll start again. After one to three attempts to create a fine "wine,", we’re likely to have come up with at least a demi-epiphany.

The takeaway

So, is there a big issue in your life that would benefit from an epiphany? If so and it hasn't magically appeared, you might create a master list of factors, the building blocks from which an epiphany might be built. Filter out all but the most central factors Then allow a day or three for those factors to permute and meld. Finally, with clear-eyes, evaluate whether the best resulting idea is just another inadequate solution, a good one, or an epiphany.

I read this aloud on YouTube.