Where did your last big idea come from? Do you remember where you were? Do you recall who you were with?
Certainly ideas can spring forth when you are brainstorming with other people. There’s nothing like masterminding and tossing out stream-of-conciousness thoughts in order to find a big idea.
But I’ve found that the best ideas often originate in circumstances that are… well… unusual.
I say that in advance because as I share where I am when my best ideas surface, you may think I am sharing too much information.
But in the spirit of authenticity, I’m just going to tell it like it is. Ready? Great! Here are the top seven places to get inspired to new levels of brilliance!
#7 – Conference or seminar
Perhaps this is the obvious low-hanging fruit. I cannot stress enough the importance of attending conferences, seminars, workshops and similar live events. With notepad and pen or digital tablet in hand, the more you pay attention to speakers and trainers who are there to teach you, the more your synapses will fire. As you hear something you’ve not heard before, not only do you begin envisioning how you might apply a new strategy to your business, but your brain begins to make the thought its own. It’s the stuff that a-ha! moments are made of. Often when I am taking notes, new ideas will come to mind and I can’t write them down quickly enough. In fact, it’s not uncommon to miss what the speaker is saying because something he or she said took root and sent me off on a whole new direction!
#6 – One-on-one with a trusted friend or associate
While there is a time and place for think-tanks, I find that focused time with one trusted friend or associate can be far more productive. The operative word in that sentence is “trusted.” There’s something about having the freedom to be who you are with someone else that frees the mind to explore greater depths of creativity. It’s a safe zone to be silly or stupid, and great ideation is bound to produce some absolutely ridiculous and ludicrous ideas. This is why it’s essential that the person you are with accepts you for who you are. It’s a lot like dancing. You want to be able to dance freely and not wonder if your partner is judging your moves. When I have opportunity to generate ideas with those in my trusted circle some pretty cool things happen.
#5 – Driving
You’ll notice that the remainder of places on my list are all dependent on you being alone. I have found that the majority of great ideas happen when I am riding solo. In the case of #5, I really am riding… in my car. Whether I’ve got the radio blaring or it’s completely silent, I find being behind the wheel of the car to be highly productive. This is particularly true for highway driving when there isn’t a lot of traffic. Mile after mile of open road creates a trance-like experience that allows your mind to process and create. It’s a good thing we have smart phones that we can dictate our brilliant ideas to. It’s just not safe to write with a pen and paper while driving.
#4 – Exercising
It’s a well-known fact that putting your body in motion is not only good for your physical health, but also your emotional health. There’s something about being in motion that creates a conducive atmosphere for fresh ideas to be produced. It may be running, hiking, cycling, lifting weights, swimming laps or any other physical activity that gives you plenty of time to think. For me, it’s walking or hiking. Every day I hit the pavement or dirt trail for at least one hour. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t find myself dictating a note to my iPhone so I can keep track of what’s on my mind. I like to move it, move it!
#3 – Bed
There’s no avoiding sleep. And who would want to? There’s nothing more refreshing that a good night’s rest. Your bed is a great place for ideas to awaken! Sometimes great ideas will come to you as you drift off to sleep. Other times you’ll wake up with a solution to a problem or a completely unrelated idea that makes you think “where did THAT come from?” It’s because your brain has been working even while you have been sleeping. Be sure to keep a digital device or something to write with near your bed so you can capture those great ideas as you are drifting off or wiping the sleep from your eyes.
#2 – Toilet
This may be just a little disturbing to some of you, but if you are honest with yourself you know I am right. And brace yourself… there be puns ahead. There’s something about sitting on “the throne” that gives you time to think. I honestly don’t know what it is (and maybe it’s just me?), but sometimes the best stuff rises to the top while the worst is sinking to the bottom. (ewww… gosh, I’m sorry… work with me here…) I wonder if there is a correlation between constipation and a lack of ideas being produced? Ok, enough said. Or perhaps, too much said. You can just flush this one if you think it’s crap.
#1 – Shower
And that brings us to the #1 place to get great ideas; the shower. It may be because taking a shower purges you and creates a sense of freshness, or perhaps it’s the water stimulating your scalp (and thus your cranium). But whatever it is, it’s difficult to deny that stepping into the shower releases waves of creativity for many people. I can’t tell you how many of my great ideas come to me while cleaning up. If you are stuck, perhaps a nice hot shower is just what you need!
It’s important to note that while #7 is something you can do only when a conference or seminar is taking place, the rest of the places I listed can be part of your every day routine. (And #1,2 and 3 are kind of necessary!)
Next time you need that big idea, don’t try to force it. Put yourself in circumstances that allow your mind to take over and do what it does best… and bring out the genius in you!
I can’t wait to hear your feedback on this. Go ahead… let me have it. Please use the form below and let me know your thoughts.