Career ‘Aha’ Moments – Part of your Emotional Intelligence?

September 23, 2017

Career ‘Aha’ Moments – Part of your Emotional Intelligence?

In my 30 years as a career coach I have experienced a phenomenon that has often surprised and delighted me - “Aha Moments”.  These are the coming together of pieces of self-knowledge, often the relinquishing of long-held, limiting beliefs and the use of information that has a transforming impact on career choice. It feels as if the person suddenly “gets it”.

Their tension and stress levels about the prospect of change drop, they realise their mindset is in their own hands and will affect their future choices, they feel inspired to act and there is a sense of “knowing” what needs to be achieved in their life/work in the short, and sometimes the longer term.

Can you as parents be the catalyst of “Aha Moments” for your children? Have you or your children already experienced such a moment?

This phenomenon has interested me so much over the years that I started to collect stories of these events, particularly the ones that seemed to have had such a profound effect on career choice.  I now recognise them in autobiographical interviews in books, magazines and on television. I am also tuned into them when people talk about their life and work, as well as recognising them in myself and my loved ones.

I have heard fascinating stories that have included dreams resulting in affirmation of a career decision or even a complete change of direction.  Events such as being dumped by a boyfriend/girlfriend, being surprised by an honour or prize, a brief meeting with someone who has asked a profound question, or losing a job or being forced to change jobs. These moments can happen at any time throughout life (sometimes too late of course!) and they feel spontaneous, but are they? How can they be induced?

I found myself analysing what actually happens in career coaching sessions. I asked myself was this something to do with me or the sequential steps or processes I use when helping someone to consider their own career direction. Was it a question of individual readiness?  My feeling is that I was probably the catalyst, but in the stories I’ve heard, a coach isn’t necessarily the catalyst, it could be anyone.  I now know that the career coaching process I adopt is capable of inducing those moments in some people, but not everyone. I know that talking about “Aha Moments” and not dismissing them as pure imagination, particularly in young people, is a valuable way of gaining insight into creative thoughts around careers and the future.

I could find little-written evidence about these moments until I read”The Brain and Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman. The term “Emotional Intelligence” has been around since the 1990’s and forms the basis of some of the social and emotional learning that happens in our schools today. It is about self-awareness and self-management, social awareness and relationship management.

Daniel Goleman, from his brain studies on creativity, discovered these moments of insight do come at random, but we can “set the mental stage” by, for example, being immersed in the process of creatively solving a problem. Before “Aha Moments” happen, there is a high degree of differing electrical activity seen in the brain. This electrical activity indicates the bringing together of neurons from far-flung brain cells that commit to a new, neural network. After this insight people feel more open, and receptive to new ideas.

Our brains are the last organ of our body to become anatomically mature. Research shows that the emotional intelligence which makes executives outstanding starts to emerge early in life and develops naturally throughout it. Emotional intelligence can always be nurtured and, as parents, you are the people who are mainly responsible for shaping the emotional intelligence of your children.

When young people have the “Aha Moment“, and “get it” they begin to take more initiative about making things happen for themselves. There is scientific proof that emotional intelligence is a separate human skill which should be nurtured by parents. It is OK to trust moments of insight and intuition as part of the career decision-making process.

Career exploration is a process that requires persistence, time and logic and sometimes a leap in knowing and understanding exactly what to do next. The answer can often just come up and you don’t know how or why. Our right neocortex is the area of the brain that interprets metaphors and gets jokes and understands the language of the unconscious. This is where” Aha Moments” come from so don’t ignore that inner voice - it might be signalling your future!

Emotional Intelligence is a key component of being ready to be your child’s career coach. Watch out for our website with tools and techniques to enhance your skills.