Reading for Insight (#859)

Today’s tip is taken with permission from Jamie Smart’s new book, Clarity: Clear Mind, Better Performance, Bigger Results, about to be released by Capstone Publishing in the UK.  Jamie is a friend and colleague, and began working on this book when he was a member of my coaching apprentice/mastery program back in 2009.

Reading for insight is reading with “nothing on your mind.” When you read for an insight, you put your existing conceptual models to one side and allow yourself to be impacted by what you’re reading.

Back in the 1990s, evolving technology led to the creation of “magic eye” images. At first glance, a magic-eye image looks like a repeating, two-dimensional pattern, but if you look “through” the image, with a soft-eyed, relaxed gaze, something amazing happens. A three-dimensional figure suddenly leaps into your awareness, a figure that was totally invisible when you first looked at the image.

People often sat staring at the 2D images, “trying hard” to see the 3D image hidden within it, but nothing happened until they relaxed and allowed the image to emerge.

Reading for an insight is sort of like looking at a magic-eye picture. You don’t really need to “think about” what you’re reading – you just relax and allow yourself to be impacted by the words. The insight that can clear your mind and give you fluid, fresh thinking isn’t in the words anyway; it’s a capacity that’s right there inside of you, “pre-loaded” into your consciousness.

Another example is music. When you listen to music you enjoy, you’re not trying to decide whether you agree with it or not. You’re listening to be impacted; to enjoy it and have an experience. When you’re reading or listening for insight, you “get a feel” for what the person’s saying, seeing beyond the written (or spoken) word to what the author’s really trying to convey. You allow an intuitive knowing to emerge from within your consciousness (this is what’s happening when you get a sudden “a-ha.”)

To get a feel for the difference between intellectual understanding and insightful understanding, imagine a dog that’s constantly chasing his tail. Now let’s imagine that the dog hires you and me as consultants to help him with overall productivity. We ask the dog what he needs, and he says something like this:

“Here’s what I need: First, I need more speed, because the thing I’m chasing is very fast. It always seems to be able to outrun me. Second, I need more agility, because this thing is also very nimble. Even when I creep up on it, it manages to slip away before I can catch it. Third, I need better strategy, because no matter what I do, it always seems one step ahead of me. It’s almost as if it knows what I’m thinking! Finally, I need more time. I’m already working 12-hour days on this, and it just doesn’t seem to be enough. So that’s what I need; more speed, more agility, better strategy and more time.”

You and I both know that all the dog really needs is to realize that it’s his own tail he’s been chasing. But if we tell him that, there are two ways the dog might respond.

If he insightfully understands what we tell him, and really “gets it,” then he will visibly relax, sigh and maybe even chuckle. He might say:

“That really makes sense. It’s a load off my mind, and it sure explains a lot of things which had been puzzling me until now. It’s also taken a lot off my to-do list, and I’ve suddenly got a lot more space in my diary. I’ve got to admit, I’m feeling a bit sheepish, but it sure is a relief. Thanks for all the extra time!”

On the other hand, if the dog has an intellectual understanding, but doesn’t have an insight, he might say something like this:

“Right. So you’re telling me that it’s my tail. Got it. So I need to remember not to chase it, right? OK. So how do I not chase my tail? Can you just take me through the process?”

If the dog says this, we know that he hasn’t really understood.


Insightful understanding often arrives suddenly, but can continue serving and informing you for years to come. It’s a natural function of the mind, and has the power to make the changes that matter in your life. Insight is the key to re-connecting you with your mind’s self-clearing capacity.

When you read (or listen) for information, the intellectual understanding you get is like a written instruction manual; it’s good as far as it goes, but it takes effort to put it into practice. That’s why people often say “I understand that intellectually, but…” Insightful understanding is more like an app for a mobile phone – once it’s downloaded, it starts working immediately. Insightful understanding is powered up and ready to go!

The rest of Jamie’s book is chock-full of similarly brilliant analogies to help you find that place of clarity inside you from which you can make better decisions, take effective actions, and create powerful results – buy it, read it, and enjoy!
with all my love,


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