Face it, we all wonder how we can become more creative. But none of us is Steve Jobs, Elon Musk or Chris Rock. Maybe the steady stream of ideas doesn’t flow out of your head. You wish it was even a drip like the faucet at the high school locker room.
Everyone is creative at some level. We all possess a spark of divinity and to tell you the truth, there are some secrets to sparking that giftedness in each and everyone of us.
Like most things, once you understand some basic principles on how ideas are formed you’ll wish you would have discovered it years ago. Let’s jump in and show you how it’s done.
What is an idea anyways. Before you get eyes glazed over. I’ll cut to the chase and just blurt it out. An idea in it’s most simple terms is the connection between two concepts. Think of it this way. Two concepts need to be connected and an idea is the connection point.
The iPhone was an idea to combine a phone and the personal computer. Bicycles or its original cousin the “Hobby Horse” was the marriage of man and his or her need to go further with less energy, and with slick spandex shorts on. (I added that for comic relief)
Now that we know what an idea is, lets discuss how to become an idea producing machine. Take down notes and more importantly, put these 7 Tips into practice. The ability to come up with ideas isn’t caught, rather is is like a muscle that is built up over time. The more you practice, the better you’ll get at it.
10 Times Daily.
This seems obvious but it is the basis for developing ideas. Start off by coming up with a focus you will develop ideas on. As quickly as you can think of 10 ideas to solve the problems, make the connection or add to the project. Don’t worry about being perfect. This is a time to get the juices flowing. There are no right or wrong answers. At the end of this exercise, take your answers and see if you can apply them to either your original problem or maybe it would fit better in another project.
Break Your Habits.
Our brains are amazing tools. Each day connections are made chemically to form habits. These habits are done each day without our thinking. This forms the basis of routines we do unconsciously. Unfortunately, these habits can also hinder our ability to come up with fresh new ideas. In order to break these habits we must consciously go out of our way to break the cycle. When we do this we are able to see things differently. Here are a few examples you will want to try. Driving to work a different route, using the same bathroom, wearing the same clothing. going to the same stores.
It’s About Diversity.
Diversity can mean different things depending on your situation. When it comes to ideas we mean allowing a variety of thoughts, people and informational input into your world. The more input you have, the more connection or options you have to choose from. As a mentor for many years I became pretty good at seeing trends in business, products and marketing. It all came as a result of being exposed to tons of varied situations and people.
Networking and being exposed to people is one of the best ways to come up with ideas. This is especially evident in being exposed to multicultural and multiethnic meetings. Make it a point to meet people from countries, cultures and life experiences far from your own. You could even take it to next level and schedule trips abroad and immerse yourself in other cultures and peoples.
Turn it Upside Down/Inside Out.
Success is a wonderful thing, but good ideas can always be improved upon. Take a successful item and reimagine it. Would it be better if you turned it upside down? Maybe it would work even better if it were turned inside out? This could be a class project. Deconstruct a successful product and reimagine it. Perfected. Expanded. Repurposed for a totally different use, with just a little tweak.
There was a scientific study which traced how much more creative people who doodled were. It showed that there is a direct correlation between people who come up with great ideas and those who simply doodled. Don’t worry about being the next Picasso. Stick figures are fine, just see what comes of you allowing your mind to wander with pen and paper.
Work Under Pressure.
There is something to be said for a minds ability to come up with solutions to problems when it is put under pressure. You literally go into “Get it Done” mode when you only have a few hours our minutes to come up with an idea. Try an exercise where you have a deadline of a few hours and see what your mind comes up with. Here is a little secret, I personally practice this technique on a weekly basis to keep my creative juices flowing. I routinely write speeches for presentations better under pressure than when I allow myself longer periods of time to complete the task.
Comedians are funny for one reason. It is the same reason why gymnasts or golfers are great at their crafts, they practice becoming that way. Ideas are exactly the same. The more you practice at coming up with good ideas, the better you will get at coming up with potentially great ideas.
We suggest you create a team you meet with on a regular basis, to bounce ideas off of. You’d be amazed at the energy that comes from such gatherings. In addition, a regular diet of diverse, disconnected reading is always a stimulating addition to your repertoire.
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