Breakdowns leads to breakthroughs. - Chris Bohjalian
It’s on the horizon of our own longing, that moment, when we stop banging our heads against a wall and breakthrough to the other side. We all have our unique walls holding us back at different times in our lives, so what can be done to break them down? How do we grasp, find and attain the elusive breakthrough?
While the moment of breakthrough may seem mysterious -- like an inspired phenomenon beyond our personal control -- the precursor to a breakthrough does contain certain consistent qualities. Spiritualists and entrepreneurs alike study the anatomy of a breakthrough and their findings share common ground.
Clear intention is as it sounds. Know the wall, if you will, know what’s on the other side and have a clear desire to get through it. Sounds easy enough, but this often requires a level of self awareness and personal reflection that many have not tackled. In business, this looks like a strong motivation to solve any given problem. In spiritual matters, it’s an acknowledgement of a stuck-ness and a dedication to getting beyond. No matter the context, half the battle is knowing where you need to go and then dedicating yourself to getting there.
Stretching and learning is just another way of saying, “get out of your comfort zone,” or think “out of the box.” Dr. Patrick Gentempo, who has worked to become a breakthrough expert, calls this phase, “Peeling off the layers of the known.” It’s about learning all that can be learned from those who have come before on your similar journey. It’s about striving and struggling. This is also often the point of discomfort and the place where many feel stuck, but must keep pushing, keep learning, and keep doing, so that they can eventually experience a eureka moment.
And when will that happen? When does the moment come? This is the portion that seems divine, as if a muse will emerge, an arrow will be shot, and all the hard work will pay off unexpectedly. But most experts agree that the key to eliciting said moment is maintaining openness and seeking novelty. In other words, seek inspiration so that creative, tangential thinking can emerge.
Gentempo tells the story of Jack Andraka, a high school student who discovered a potential new test for pancreatic cancer. Jack found his deep-set intention for finding early detection after his uncle died only months after learning he had pancreatic cancer. From there, he learned all he could about current detection, testing and research. But his breakthrough came in Biology class as he was reading an article on Nanotechnology. This was a tangent, a creative interest, that brought forth a connection. And it was this exploration of the novel, an experience of relatable difference, that made Jack have a breakthrough about how to use nanotech in cancer testing.
As Gentempo says to his business clients, “Constantly stimulate different thoughts to lead you down a path, and stimulate creativity and ideas in an unrelated area in order to have breakthroughs that would otherwise not happen.”
Perhaps science or business breakthrough seems different than personal breakthrough, but Oprah and Tony Robbins weigh in on the personal side with very similar advice. Oprah tell us that “There is no source of inspiration is too insignificant,” to inspire breakthrough. And Tony Robbins, says the key to breakthrough is “to change your state.”
Ultimately, it’s about applying intention to your well-known goal, and then getting outside of yourself, outside your comfort zone, to create the space needed for inspiration and breakthrough.
Maybe Francis of Assisi was crafting his own 3 step process to breakthrough when he said, in the 1200s, “Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”