How to Train Your Brain

Jeff Henderson is the pastor of Gwinnett Church, a multi-site campus of North Point Ministries based in Alpharetta, Georgia. Before serving at Gwinnett Church, Jeff was the lead pastor of North Point’s Buckhead Church, and prior to that spent seventeen years in marketing and advertising, most of which was with Chick-fil-A. You can read more from Jeff on The Gwinnett Church Blog or follow him on Twitter. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

Has anyone ever taught you “how” to think? It might seem like an odd question but think about it for a moment. (No pun intended.)

Light Bulbs Sketched on Chalkboard - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/aluxum, Image #14314309

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/aluxum

We all think. We’ve all heard about the power of our thoughts. And we’ve all heard about positive thinking.

But have we ever been taught how? Have we ever been taught how to maximize this incredible God-given ability to think?

Several years ago, I was challenged by a friend with this truth: “Every problem has a solution. You must train your brain to find it. Your brain is like a muscle. The more you train it to think and look for ideas and solutions, the more you will find.”

The key is training. The key is understanding how to think and look for solutions.

It’s the secret to innovation. There is no innovation with innovative thinking.

That said, I want to share one way to train your brain to find and capture thoughts that will lead to more solutions and ideas.

The Ten-Minute Storm

This simple exercise has helped me tremendously in thinking and finding ideas and solutions. I call it the Ten-Minute Storm.

Here’s an example of how I used it: I was working on a message for a sermon series about finding God’s plans for our lives. I needed to create a memorable, catchy bottom line that I hoped people would remember. I had the content written, but not the bottom line.

I wanted people to be able to repeat what my sermon was about on Sunday if they were asked about it at the water-cooler on Monday. If you’ve ever given a talk, you know how hard this is. And that was my problem. So I turned to the ten-minute storm to help.

Here’s how it works.

You’ll need a piece of paper and a pen. (Sorry, no computer. It works best when you write by hand.)

You’ll also need a watch or clock to time the ten minutes.

At a precise beginning point, start writing anything that comes to your mind about the idea, problem, message, etc. Even if you can’t think of anything to write, simply write out “I can’t think of anything to write.” Keep going for ten minutes.

Don’t stop. I repeat. Don’t stop. Keep writing.

At the conclusion of the ten-minute brainstorm, stop and look at what you’ve written. Find patterns. Circle what stands out. See if you can find a connection.

Let’s go back to my sermon series as an example. Here are some phrases and words I wrote while trying to find the bottom line of my talk:

God created you. God’s thumbprints are on you. God has a plan for you. How do you find God’s plan for your life? God’s will. Do you know how you are wired? Do you know how you are created? God’s thumbprints are clues. God’s thumbprints connect with God’s plans. Clues. Thumbprints. Plans. You.

I wrote down phrases and words like that for ten minutes. Once the time was up, I stopped and began to circle the phrases that stood out. Suddenly, I saw the bottom line of my message:

God’s thumbprints on you are clues about His plans for you.

I gave that talk last fall. It’s been so fun hearing people come up to me and repeat that bottom line over and over again.

My point is this: Every problem has a solution. You just have to train your brain to look for them.

Question: How about you? How have you trained your brain to look for ideas and solutions? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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