Where do your ideas come from? This has to be the number one asked questions of any creative (writer, designer, event planner, photographer, campaign designer…). If they are honest they will say they are not quite sure. There’s not an idea store where you can peruse the shelves looking for the next great idea.
Ideas come from all directions, at random times and without warning. Most brilliant ideas are a connection of preexisting ideas. Here are seven ideas to finding better ideas.
Read a lot. Reading get’s you in the head of the author, letting you learn from his/her perspective. Reading is a way to store ideas until you need them. It’s like storing away food for the winter. Read different genres. I love reading books on leadership, creativity, marketing, theology, entrepreneurship, history, and fiction.
2- Take a Trip
Get out side of your normal routine. Change the scenery and your synapses will be firing on overdrive. Visiting another city or country forces you to be more observant. You notice details you miss from the mundane repetition of your usual routine. If you can’t visit another country or even another city, then visit a new part of your city.
3- Go For a Walk
Similar to taking a trip, when you walk somewhere you are forced to slow down from your typical pace. You will notice more and have more time to process what you are taking in. This is why I love going into DC for lunch or coffee meetings. I take the metro in and then walk from there. It forces me to slow down, which means I observe more and have time to process more.
4- Meet New People, Outside Your Circle
Everyone you meet is constantly working with ideas. If you spend all your time with people in your same circle, field, or area of expertise, you will most likely come up with all the same ideas. This is why my friend pastor Jeff says he studies Disney World to learn about creating great customer service rather than studying other churches.
5- Look For a Problem, Then a Solution
The best ideas solve a problem. Toilet paper was a brilliant idea because is solved a problem. The automobile was a great idea because if solved a problem. Medicines solve problems. What problems need to be solved? What ideas can you come up with to solve them?
6- Capture ALL of Your Ideas
My friend Mark says all the time, “the shortest pen is longer than the longest memory.” Every single one of us has had one of those Eureka moments but failed to write it down. We were so excited about the world-changing idea but then as quickly as it came, it vanished. Create a system for capturing all your ideas. I use Evernote religiously. Figure out what works for you and discipline your self to capture all the ideas that pop in your head.
7- Attend Conferences
I love attending conferences not only for the conference content, but because you capture so many of the ideas above. You get out of your routine, you typically take a trip, you meet new people, and you are exposed to new ideas. That’s why I love conferences like Catalyst, Story and Q. There’s so much emphasis on the whole experience, not just the content.
How do you come up with your ideas?