The way to get good ideas is to get lots of ideas and throw the bad ones away. — Linus Pauling, winner of Nobel Prizes in both peace and chemistry.
What do you do when you need an idea and you need it quick? Hire a consultant? Delegate? Panic? No to all of those! You have within you a creative genius ready to help you at a moment’s notice. You just need a few suggestions to help prime the pump. As master idea generator Albert Einstein said, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” Don’t lose hope. Help awaits. Just grab a pen and notebook, roll up your sleeves, complete the exercises below and voila, brilliant answers! You had it in you all the time.
Ask the right question
What is the biggest challenge you’re facing? Phrase it as a question in at least five different ways. For example:
- How could we improve employee retention?
- What would be the best way to improve employee retention?
- Why the heck can’t we keep our good people?
- Why are people leaving our company in such large numbers?
- How can we attract employees who want to stay?
You get the idea. After you’ve generated your list of questions, circle the one that’s most compelling. It will be the one that jumps out at you. Remember when you were in school and the teacher asked a question and you knew the answer? It will make you feel like that. Now… answer the question and come up with a great solution.
Focus on the solution
You may not know the exact solution to the problem you’re facing. However, there are several ways of focusing on the solution. Ask yourself questions like these: “How will I know the problem has been solved?” “What will I accept as verification? “ “How will I feel when my problem is solved?” “How will my life (business, team, etc.) be different when this issue is worked out?” “What will success look like?” If you can begin to focus on the outcome you desire, your intuition will be able to provide you with the most advantageous path to get there.
What would ______ do?
Fill in the blank with the name of someone you admire. It can be a former or current boss, your neighbor, your mother or father, a famous historical figure. It doesn’t matter who you choose as long as you view them as possessing the qualities you need to make this decision. Close your eyes and imagine you are this person. How would they approach your issue or problem. Jot down all the ideas that come to you, even if they seem silly, weird or impossible. Those are usually the best!
Befriend your inner critic
One of the most difficult parts of generating new ideas is that it seems to send your inner critic into high gear. If your inner critic sounds anything like mine, you’ll hear such things as, “That’s a dumb idea.” “That won’t work.” “Who do you think you are?!” Let me hasten to add that your inner voice (intuition) and your inner critic have nothing in common. Intuitive messages are usually kind, calming and make you feel hopeful and optimistic. The “IC” does the opposite.
Artist and poet William Blake stated, “All great inventions, ideas, businesses and solutions were once simply an idea in someone’s mind. What is now proved was once only imagined.” In order not to hinder those great ideas, make friends with your inner critic. Tell him or her they have a role in helping you evaluate ideas once you’ve given them time to develop. Respect your creative process. Let your thoughts percolate for a period of time before you assess them.
Let the intuitive muses provide answers
Do you ever notice that brilliant answers don’t seem to come when you’re really focused, intense, and serious? This usually occurs when you need creative insight this very minute. It happens to all of us. You may as well take advantage of this fact and let the muses help you by expanding your options. “Nothing is more dangerous than an idea when it is the only one you have” says philosopher, Emile Chartier.
To begin, choose a topic about which you’d like some fresh insight. Write a line or two about it in your notebook. Now take a fifteen-minute break and do something routine. If you’re home — take a shower, wash the dishes or pet the cat. If you’re at the office — take a walk outside, grab a latte or simply take the elevator down to the lobby. When the fifteen minutes are up, grab your notebook again and jot down all the new ideas you have at the moment. The great thing is that the intuitive muses enjoy helping you. You just have to give them a work assignment!
Whenever you’re trying to come up with new ideas, it helps to keep in mind the wonderful dialog from Alice in Wonderland. Alice laughs and says to the Queen, "There's no use trying. One can't believe impossible things."
The Queen replies, "I daresay you haven't had much practice. When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
May you believe impossible things and create wonderful possibilities!http://www.LynnRobinson.com