“I have an idea” – These words have quite possibly heralded some of the greatest inventions known to man. They mark many of the junctures at which the course of the human race changed forever.
“I have no idea” – If you have no intention / or plan to come up with new ideas, these words signify the death of one’s creative spirit. They’re almost like a badge that says you’ve given up on trying to succeed.
Ideas are the virtual currency that will always give you an advantage.
See, when you have a problem (or even a bunch of them), you have a much better chance of finding a solution if you have an idea of where to start. In fact, ideally, you should have a dozen ideas which could lead to possible solutions for you.
We need ideas when choosing careers. We need them when starting businesses. We need them when we fail (which will happen a lot). We need them when we want to leave the jobs that are keeping us miserable. We need ideas if we are to (meaningfully) help others. But most of all, we need ideas if we are to help ourselves.
Because nobody is going to walk up to you and hand you the life you want. You have got to learn to help yourself.
Ideas save you from stagnation.
There’s just one problem: Most of us have no way to generate ideas. We sort of hope that we’ll happen upon a useful idea every now and then. Eventually, we end up following (and needing) the people who have the most (but not necessarily the best) ideas. We become intellectual slaves of the people who have more ideas than us.
And it’s never a good thing to be depending on someone else for solutions to your problems.
Idea generation is a process. It is a form of creative expression.
The other problem many of us have is that we judge our ideas (often quite harshly). And if we don’t like them, we give up on the entire process. This is how I’ve fixed these two problems for myself.
- Every morning, I write. I write down all the thoughts that I’ve been having repeatedly. I don’t explain, question or justify any of them. I just write.
- I write down ideas for my business (strategies, marketing plans, podcasts, blogs, newsletters etc.) my wellbeing and my personal growth.
- I write down ideas that aren’t useful to me but will definitely be useful to someone else. This way, when I meet someone for the first time, the chances are quite high that I have a few ideas that I can share with them. Ideas help me add value to someone else’s life.
- I’ve outlined for myself the progression of ideas. This is how it goes:
- I have dozens of bad ideas
- Eventually, my head surfaces above the wave of bad ideas and I have a few ‘okay’ ideas
- 90% of the ‘okay’ ideas are impractical or just downright useless. The 10% of ideas that are left have the potential to become good ideas if I work on them a bit
- I work on the good ideas and try to come up with more good ideas
- Someone, whose opinion I respect, looks at my good ideas and tells me, “Your ideas are terrible”
- Perfect. This is when I know I’m halfway through my idea pyramid
- I have some more terrible ideas mixed with some super-brilliant ones
- I realise they’re only super-brilliant to me and a day later, they’re not so great
- I refine some of my good and ‘okay’ ideas
- I have a few truly great ideas
- I act on just one idea
Sometimes, one idea is all you need to improve your life or someone else’s life, forever.
You don’t need permission. Go.