What’s an “Aha” or “Ah-ha” moment? Merriam-Webster defines “Aha” as “a
moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension”.
In critical thinking we designate the Aha moment as that time when you go
from being unclear to clear. Moving from unclear about a problem to clear about the
problem. Progressing from not knowing what to do to knowing what to do.
The oversight a lot of us have, me included, is that we assume Aha moments
need to be those momentous occasions when we have such a huge awakening that it
changes everything. Like when becoming clear that you are in love with the person
you are dating, or when you decide to look for another job, or when you create a
solution that will half the time to complete a project.
Here’s a thought. Every time you learn something new, even if just a small thing,
you should consciously declare an Aha moment. Here’s why.
We learn new things every day. In our automatic mode, we don’t stop to
acknowledge the learning. We don’t even ask if what we learned is actually new learning.
We just go on to the next thing. This often results in us forgetting the learning. What a waste!
If it’s learning that would avoid a future problem, then we are
destined to repeat it. If it’s learning that has value, but we don’t recognize it, then
Instead, what if we were to cherish these little Aha moments by recognizing the
learning. Ask, “What did I learn from this incident?” Consciously recognizing the little
Aha moments can go a long way in remembering them. This will allow us to avoid an
error or recognize an opportunity in the future. Acknowledge all the Aha moments, no matter
how small. In this way, the next time you are in a similar situation, you won’t have
to re-learn what you already know.
Examples of little Aha moments:
- You discover a shortcut to work. (Aha - maybe there are other shortcuts in other
things you do)?
- You realize that you have never changed the LED bulb in your lamp. (Aha - what
other investments might you make that can save you time and money over the long
- You ask for help for something you would normally not ask for … and got the help...
And it made a difference. (Aha #1 - asking for help is OK … Aha #2 - When you
learn from the help of others you should make it an Aha moment so you won’t have
to ask again !)
Suggestions to preserve Aha moments:
- At the end of the day ask, “What did I learn today?”.
- Don’t take “Nothing” as an acceptable answer to the above question. You learn
something new every day, so dig for it.
- Keep a daily log to write your Aha moments down.
- Ask others “what did you learn from this experience?”
- Ask “Where can I apply my learning from today in other situations?”
- Quantify your learning … Will it save you time or money? Will it make you
healthier? Will you be happier?
- If you had learned what you learned today a year ago, what difference might it
- If you don’t learn from this Aha moment, what difference will it be a year from now?
The Takeaway: (An Aha moment?). We learn little things every day. Don’t brush
them off. Acknowledge the moment, pat yourself on the back for knowing that the
learning will allow you to capture a future opportunity or avoid a mishap. Make
every learning an “Aha” moment. Ask, “What have I learned today, and where/when
can I apply this learning in the future?”