August 16, 2009

How to get an idea?

There seems to be a common myth that one day you’ll just sit under a tree and get a good idea.

I read somewhere that an idea is nothing more nor less than a new combination of old elements. idea_bulb

Archimedes, the greet Greek mathematician got an idea in the bathtub. Sir Isaac Newton got an idea observing an apple fall from a tree. Percy Lebaron Spencer, an American engineer got the idea of Microwave Oven, when the chocolate bar in his pocket had melted while standing by a magnetron.  By his death in 1931 Thomas Edison had gathered over a 1000 patents. Sure, today we may not remember many of them but among were also a handful of world-changing ideas such as the light bulb, the phonograph and the Kinescope.

As you are involved in your work, you keep thinking how to improve your work. This often results in ideas. When you are discussing something with friends, you may have just got an idea. Your necessity may bring out an idea as Necessity is the mother of all invention and then one idea may lead to another. 

I agree that most ideas are just new combinations of old elements but you can not get an idea just because you want to get an idea. It just happens... like accidents. You don’t plan accidents.. do we? I think ideas are certainly new combinations of old elements but they're also more than that in that they take on a life of their own once created and can be enduring and influential. Big or small I believe we only generate ideas when we break old patterns and in that sense the new combination of old elements is absolutely right. To get an idea you should

  • Expose your mind to others who are more creative than you. Not necessary in your own field, though that's helpful, of course. But acquainting yourself with the work of great painters, great musicians, great writers will provide fodder in your mind for your own creativity.
  • Get together with another creative person and brainstorm solutions to your particular project. Often, bringing two or more people together will generate ideas that no one of them would have alone.
  • Play, the creative part of the mind often works "behind the scenes". Carve out time in your schedule for fun, non-work activities and relationships and rest.
  • Carry around a journal and sketchbook all the time.
  • Mind mapping is a useful way to come up with new ideas or concepts. This involves writing various words that are associated with your subject and finding other words or phrases (idioms) that relate.
  • Use the pen and a piece of paper try to come up with 20 ideas to improve something. This something can be you business, health, the amount of money you earn, your life in general or just another idea that you want to improve. The interesting thing about sitting down and starting to consciously generating ideas is that once you get them to start trickling into your mind they often develop into a small stream or sometimes even a river. Before you begin it may seem difficult to gather 20 or 40 new ideas but soon after you get started it seems, at least for a while, like you’re plucking them out of the air as easy as picking a basket of apples.

Everyone has his own way to create an idea but as there is a saying that "No great thing is created suddenly." and one should take time to develop and implement a good idea. Hope you like the idea of this post and would comment your views on it. 

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