Great ideas make the world go around.
Think about the day-to-day technology we use, the efficient cars we drive, the modern offices we work in…. all of them are the product of those light-bulb moments.
These inventions keep evolving all the time, as more ideas people add to them and find smarter and better ways of doing things.
Now, you may be thinking that you are not an “ideas person”, an “inventor” or “innovator”.
I am here to tell you that you are wrong!
We’re all capable of great ideas and what’s more — we’ll all need to come up with them from time to time.
There will be moments when you hit a roadblock with an investment or can’t seem to work out which direction to take your work in, and you’ll need a solution.
Here are some ways to prime your brain for creative thinking:
Study the field
Nothing compares to studying the great ideas that came before you.
Take a look around your field: it will be littered with both successful ideas and great failures.
Let’s start with the failures:
- Why didn’t they work?
- Was it a case of a good idea in theory that did not work in real life?
- Did people mismanage the idea?
Now, let’s look at the success stories.
- Why was this business idea, project or approach successful? Be specific about what made it work.
Most successful ideas come about because of a combination of factors such as the experience of the person, the hard work behind it, and the strength of the idea itself.
What can you learn from those successfully bringing their ideas to market?
Study the thinkers
Some people appear to be brimming with great ideas.
The truth is: they are more naturally in tune with the part of themselves that is innovative and forward thinking.
There may be someone like this in your office.
Or you may have met them in your field of business.
Try and gauge how they come up with their ideas.
Do they actively brainstorm, or do they prefer to consult with others?
Their approach may not necessarily work for you — we’re all wired differently, after all — but they will at least give you an idea of some places to start.
In time you will find the practices that work best for you.
Get out of your own way
A friend of mine has a great saying that in order to really be successful you have to “get out of your own way”.
What does he mean by that?
Think about some of the habits that hold you back from thinking creatively.
Are you a procrastinator who keeps putting off your dreams of running your own business?
Over-eating, excessive alcohol consumption, inefficient work habits are all self-sabotaging behaviours that stop us from reaching our full potential.
We are unlikely to have a great idea of any kind while we are trapped in these unhelpful habits and behaviours.
Once you start to change these, you will feel a little uncomfortable at first, but stick with it.
Discomfort is where the magic happens.
Finally, don’t think too hard
Sometimes we can try so hard to come up with an idea or new approach that we end up more confused than ever.
Often some of the best ideas occur when we are not consciously thinking about work.
Think back to the last great idea you had regarding a work project.
Was it while you were sitting at your desk trying to think about a solution?
Or were you doing something completely unrelated to work when the idea popped into your head?
The subconscious mind is an incredible thing, and even when we are not consciously thinking about a particular idea, the cogs are turning behind the scenes.
If you have looked at a problem from all angles, done your research and plenty of brainstorming, it may be time to put the idea to bed.
Chances are that light-bulb moment will come to you once you have all but given up!
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Also published on Medium.