In 1583 a young man attending a University in Pisa, Italy became very disinterested and bored with the lecture at hand. Instead of listening, he turned his observation to an overhead light that was swinging randomly. He took his pulse and began feeling the irregularity of his pulse and observed in timing that the interval between the short swing of the lamp vs. the long swing of the lamp was exactly the same. Indeed this initial observation was one of the major breakthroughs in randomness thinking vs. measurement thinking in our society.

This young man was Galileo. Indeed he went on to apply sequential patterns to numbers, movements, stars, and many other things. Today we are all aware of how deeply Galileo impacted science, thinking, and society.

So what does this story have to do with business idea breakthrough? Indeed the key thing that Galileo did was observe! Too frequently we all fail to simply observe. We sometimes listen, we sometimes look, we often accept the dogma–myself included. So I’d like to offer up five key steps that you need to engage in to have your business breakthrough idea.

1. Listen. Listen and watch. Really listen, really watch, and observe what is going on around you. Too frequently we ignore all the little signs all the little interesting behaviors. How many thousands of years have people observed swinging lamps, but not taken the time to notice them and measure? How interesting is that little subtle difference that caught his interest?

2. Once you observe, ask “why”. I knew a shining example of this–a four year old named James. Every question out of his mouth was, why? As adults, too frequently we quit asking why and thus we fail to learn and have mental breakthroughs.

3. Find an anomaly. In my experience, anytime you see something that makes you say, “Well that’s interesting.” or “Oh I don’t quite understand that.” or “Oh, that’s strange!” that means the situation is laden with dollars and laden with opportunities.

Most people glance over those opportunities as simply an anomaly. I can say that five or six of the businesses that I have had the most success with have started with a strange little anomaly I’ve found success when I’ve have taken the time to listen and watch, ask why, and dig deeper.

4. Don’t accept the dogma. I have to chuckle a little at folks who are at peace with simply following the experts and accepting the status quo. I’m not saying that we don’t listen to those with expert opinion, but the reality is, we can’t accept everything as it is presented.

There are problems in the way we repeatedly approach learning and continually ask the same questions. With my youth that I help educate, one of the ten mandatory rules is “Don’t accept anything just because it was told to you.” You have to test it and prove it out and use logic for yourself.

5. Trust your gut, and test it. You can trust your gut and natural intuition, but once you discover that intuition…measure it and validate it.

You see, too frequently individuals attempt to do either one or the other. They attempt to say, “Oh I have a gut feel, therefore it’s true.” But think about how well that worked out for those who believed the world was flat.

On the other hand, if you just rely 100% on logic, you lose. The solution is to marry the heart and the head. In other words, rely on both intuition and scientific method. Test to see if your results can be reproduced. See if those results can be consistent.

Indeed, this is an art form combined with a science. These 5 steps work. I tell you they are the fundamental punch points of being able to come up with great ideas that then translate into success and then into dollars.

Just as Galileo of old took the time to observe, please and take the time to contemplate and understand the nuances of what is going on around you.

Never before have there been so many resources for us. Never before have there been so many opportunities for success. I look forward to hearing and seeing the great business ideas pop up around the world. Observe just like Galileo did in 1583.