This story originally appeared in Fast Company.
The moment a great idea or solution hits you can feel like magic—like it's been delivered whole to you by some divine being. We all hope for those moments. But what ends up happening, more often than not, is quite the opposite—we're floundering and stuck on a problem, desperate for one of those magic breakthroughs to pull through.
Of course, there's nothing magic about it. "Struggle and insight go together," says David Perkins, research professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. "You are not likely to achieve an insight, unless you’ve struggled with the problem some."
In other words, breakthrough thinking is usually preceded by a lot of dead ends and bad ideas. "If you look historically at breakthroughs, the story is never just about the key insight. It's also about what led up to it and what followed it," says Perkins. "Typically that involves a lot of work..."