By Steve Bloom
The power of a truly great idea can’t be understated. With one great idea, you could build a multi-million dollar business. You could solve the world’s problems. One great idea could change your life.
Having the ability to come up with great ideas is a highly prized skill. But how exactly do people come up with them? Some people seem to think it’s all about inspiration – the kind that just strikes whenever it wants.
It’s like the story of Isaac Newton. This is something we’ve all heard before.
Newton was sitting under a tree when an apple fell and bumped him on the head.
Immediately Newton was struck with a brilliant idea – the theory of gravity. In an instant, he changed how people see the world.
The big problem with this story is that it’s not true. Newton didn’t come up with his idea of gravity in an instant. It took a long time of thinking and working out the math.
But this instance is how many people look at generating ideas. They think it happens at a single moment when inspiration comes to them.
The problem with this way of seeing ideas is that it’s passive. Ideas come to you.
That’s not how ideas work. You have to actively be seeking them out; it takes some work to get there. If you just wait for them, a truly creative idea will probably never come to you.
If you want your life to change with a brilliant new idea, you have to be on the lookout for them. They don’t just happen out of thin air.
Be active, not passive.
Do things that mentally stimulate your brain so that ideas can be born.
1. Surrounding yourself with brilliant thinkers
Great ideas don’t usually form alone. They often come from interactions with have with others. A small idea gets bounced back and forth in conversation until something extraordinary comes out of it.
That’s why a lot of great artists and writers spend time with each other. Someone will bring something up and a discussion will get started. By the end of the discussion, you’ll have something great.
Try to network with smart and innovative people. When you have someone intelligent to talk with, your small ideas can become huge.
You don’t even need to know these people in person. You can also track their activities from a distance. Follow them online or read their blog. Something they say could spark a new idea in you.
2. Changing your environment
Never underestimate the power your environment has over your ability to create ideas.
Think of all the people who have been inspired by nature. A huge waterfall or beautiful view can light up your mind.
A great city can have the same effect. People have been inspired by lively places like New York or Paris.
Travel more and get out of your normal, everyday environment. That might be all you need to get that creativity working inside your head.
3. Do something exciting
When you do something exciting, you feel alive. It gets your heart pumping and you reach a higher state of mind.
All that excitement frees up your mind and gets you thinking. In that state of excitement, you stop seeing obstacles. Your mind becomes open to new possibilities. It’s really freeing.
Try something like surfing or mountain climbing. Get out and do new, exciting things that will stimulate your brain.
4. Letting your mind wander in silence
When is the last time you sat in silence and just let your mind think?
There is so much noise in the world that our minds can become overwhelmed. We’re always checking Facebook, our email, watching TV or talking with someone.
Yes, it’s stimulating the brain, but it might be too much. All that stimulation might be overwhelming your thoughts and actually preventing new ideas from forming.
Quieting things down a little can be good for clear thinking. It’s rejuvenating.
When you let your mind think about things without any outside stimulation, you might be surprised what it will come up.
5. Examine other people’s great ideas
History is full of great people who came up with great ideas. Why not study them?
Take a look at some of the greatest ideas that have already happened and analyze them for why they became so great to begin with.
How did they change things?
How did these people approach their problems?
Their insights might help you come up with a few insights of your own.
6. Exploring your creative side
Creative ideas don’t just come out of nowhere. They come out of the creative side of your brain. So if you exercise that portion of your brain more, you’re more likely to get more out of it.
Get in touch with that area of your mind. Be creative.
Paint something or write a short story. Do creative things that you don’t normally do.
Go to a museum and look at great works of art. Or listen to new types of music you don’t normally listen to. The more creativity you explore, the more it stretches your mind.
7. Looking at things from a different angle
When is the last time you saw something from a different perspective? An angle with a different, unique viewpoint can change the way you see things.
Get in the habit of looking at the world this way. Don’t just see things from one side; see them from all the sides you can.
Look at the world from a child’s eye. Look at it as if you’re an alien from another planet.
It’s amazing how little you actually see of the world if you only take your one single view. When you start seeing things from multiple angles, you see the world in entirely new ways.