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How to Have Good Ideas

How to Have Good Ideas

How to Have Good Ideas

Being creative helps develop your problem-solving abilities. Here are nine ways to develop your creativity:

  1. Learn to draw.
  2. Think in associative chains
  3. Use analogy and metaphor.
  4. There is more than one way to skin a cat.
  5. Ask: What are we assuming in this situation, that isn't necessarily true?
  6. Read all you can on a wide variety of topics.
  7. Sleep on it.
  8. Always carry a notebook with you.
  9. Never give up. Achieving the impossible takes time.

1. Learn to draw

Sounds funny but it's true. Why?

Because we all think in pictures.

Therefore, being able to express your ideas with a quick sketch is a terrific aid to your creative brain. If you think about the great geniuses, such as Leonardo da Vinci, Christopher Wren, Charles Darwin, Galileo, and even people such as Winston Churchill and Sylvester Stallone, they were artistic (ie they were proficient and talented at drawing).

Since creative imagination is based on the ability to form mental IMAGES, then training yourself to express your ideas artistically will be one of your fasted routes to improved creativity.

If you can draw, maybe you can more easily draw-out good ideas from your subconscious. or explain what you mean to other people by drawing a diagram or an image.

2. Think in chains

Creative ideas do not appear from nowhere.

Creative ideas are the end product of a chain of inductive reasoning, that usually start with the phrase, "If this was true, then what would follow?"

  • If E were true, what would follow? Answer: F
  • If F were true, what would follow? Answer: G

Try to form chains of logical associations.

Try to figure it out first, in your head.

Start by assuming a principle and then deduce its consequences:

  • Then the consequence of the consequence,
  • Then the consequence of the consequence of the consequence, and so on.

And then test to see if your theory works in practice.

This is often how science progresses.

Science does not always progress by means of multi million pound experiments in a particle accelerator.

Often the greatest ideas came from one person sitting quietly in a room with a pencil and some paper.

  • That is how Isaac Newton discovered universal gravitation.
  • That is how Einstein discovered the general theory of relativity.
  • That is how Darwin discovered the laws of evolution.

Just a pen, paper and a lot of thought.

3. Use analogy and metaphor.

Ask yourself, has mother nature solved this question already. You will find that many great ideas were inspired by observing nature.

For example, Frei Otto won architecture's greatest prize by designing structures whose form was inspired by nature. In his book Biology and Building, Frei Otto examined the ways that lightweight, sandwich construction of bird skulls could be copied and used in architecture; how spiders' webs designs could be copied to build sports stadium roofs. Otto noticed that a soap film will spread naturally between fixed points to offer the smallest achievable surface area. Anyone blowing bubbles can see how this works.

Ask yourself: Can you gain inspiration by observing how Mother Nature does business?

4. There is more than one way to skin a cat.

Many people are stuck, because their current situation is okay. And because it is "okay", they stay with it, and they never look for anything better.

Creative people are never satisfied!

They are always irritated by the thought that the current situation is not ideal and that there must be a better way of doing it. Thomas Edison said, " There is a better way. Let's find it!"

Note the first part of that quote. Edison assumed that there was always "a better way".

That means that inventors are NEVER satisfied with the status quo.

Edison called this state of mind, "Divine dissatisfaction".

To be creative, assume that nothing on this earth is perfect. Everything is capable of improvement.

Your mission is to improve everything you can, in the short time that you have available.

5. Ask: What are we assuming in this situation, that isn't necessarily true?

We are limited by our unstated assumptions. The famous THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX, puzzle exemplifies the issue of unstated assumption.

Below are nine dots arranged in a set of three rows. The challenge is to draw four straight lines which go through the middle of all the dots without taking the pen off the paper.

Personal Development : How to Have Good Ideas

The solution can only be found when one dismisses the assumption that there is a boundary formed by the external dots. The solution requires that you extend the line beyond the boundary of the square.

In a similar way, you are bounded by assumptions, such as:

  • I could not do that, because I've never done it before.
  • We could not do that, because NOBODY has done it before.
  • What goes up, must come down.
  • More is better than less.

None of the above assumptions are true (or are they?)

6. Read all you can on a wide variety of topics.

The more information you have encoded in your brain, the more combinations your imagination can create.

So, read, read, read.

The more ideas you pour into your head, the more ideas you can get out. And not the same ideas, but multiple combinations of ideas.

Your subconscious mind is an ideas factory. But it needs raw materials with which to work.

The problem that many people have is that that the thoughts they have today, are the same thoughts they had yesterday and the day before.

The best way to break out of your own head, and to enter the heads of other people, is to read.

In the science of computer technology, they have a saying; Garbage in, Garbage out. (GIGO).

Which means, if you type into a computer's memory idiotic inputs, you will get-back only idiotic outputs.

What is true of computers is also true of human beings. If you pour trash in, you will get only trash out.

So rather than read Reddit, or Tinder, read Stephen Hawkins, Adam Smith or Martin Luther King.

Delve deeply into the minds of historic geniuses and see if any of it rubs off.

7. Sleep on it.

Let your subconscious mind have a stab at it.

Sometimes, in the middle of the night, the answer will pop into your mind in the form of a sudden bolt from the blue.

It did not come from outer space.

The idea came from the subconscious portion of your mind which is operating 24 hours a day.

8. Always carry a notebook with you.

Always carry a notebook and pen so that you can record your occasional flashes of genius.

Sometimes inspiration comes at inopportune times.

9. Never give up.

Be persistent. Achieving the impossible takes time!

About the Author: Chris Farmer


Chris Farmer is the founder of the Corporate Coach Group and has many years’ experience in training leaders and managers, in both the public and private sectors, to achieve their organisational goals, especially during tough economic times. He is also well aware of the disciplines and problems associated with running a business.

Over the years, Chris has designed and delivered thousands of training programmes and has coached and motivated many management teams, groups and individuals. His training programmes are both structured and clear, designed to help delegates organise their thinking and, wherever necessary, to improve their techniques and skills.

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