Where do you have your best ideas? I have asked that question to thousands of people over the years. The answer? Rarely sitting at their desks trying to think of an idea.
Number 1 in the “Inspirational Moments” chart is taking a shower, swiftly followed by walking the dog, lying in bed, travelling and running or cycling.
When we are relaxed and engaged in simple activities we access more of our creative genius and therefore ideas come effortlessly. And boy, that “Eureka!” moment feels good. Archimedes was onto something. But ideas are just that without execution, so here are ten ways to get ideas and make them a reality.
1. Just relax
We have two main ways of thinking. One is with the logical, rational, analytical part of our brain, which we spend all our time using but which accesses only a small amount of our overall capacity. The creative state, on the other hand, is accessed by relaxing and having fun. So when you’re trying to have ideas, do it away from your desk in a place that makes you feel more human. Ideas will naturally come more easily. My favourite is walking in the country, but it could be lying down, listening to music or playing a sport.
2. Talk it out
Grab a mate and either sit in a pub or a café or go for a walk with them and talk nonstop at them about your idea for seven-and-a-half minutes really quickly. Every now and again you’ll say something that feels interesting. That’s usually when you have an insight or an idea that might have some potential. Most of my clients now use this instead of brainstorming.
3. Go to sleep
Ponder your idea before you go to sleep. Then as soon as you wake up, write down whatever it is you’re thinking about. If you do that for five days in a row, you’ll find that the stuff that comes to you in the morning will become more and more useful. You’re starting to communicate to your subconscious that actually you’re interested in what it’s telling you.
4. Doodle it
Get a big piece of paper and some coloured pens and doodle. Use that piece of paper as an expansive tool to get stuff out of your head. And I mean a big piece of paper. It should be at least A3, and you need lots of it, so when it doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter.
5. Get playful
Einstein once said, “You will not solve a problem with the same consciousness that created it.” So if it’s all very serious and logical, you’ve got to be playful and lark about a bit with it. Break some rules. Play with the idea, come up with some crazy connections. Kind of like a child would do but without the tantrums. Follow Billy Connolly on this one “Never trust a man, who when left alone with a tea cosy…doesn’t try it on.” It works.
6. Make It Real
So you have your ideas. Make them real as soon as possible so you can try them out and get some reaction. Commit to them, tell the world, your friends, your mum and make it so that it’s inevitable that you do it. Direct feedback early on will help you refine them and is way more powerful than any research deck.
7. Wake Up!
Wake in the morning and ask what three things you need to do to make them happen, write it down and then review progress at night.
8. Experiment Make it 3D
Play around and build a prototype. The most amazing inventions have come from very little. The computer mouse came from a weekend modeling with a butter dish and a roll-on deodorant.
Failure is a wonderful thing; you can learn so much from it. The most famous failure is the Dyson Vacuum Cleaner; it took James Dyson 5,127 prototypes. Dyson is now worth $4.9 billion.