If you’ve ever been around a bunch of 6-year-olds, you know they don’t have any trouble coming up with ideas. Ask for ideas and each child becomes a fountain, spraying ideas out into the world. That’s a human trait. We get good ideas all the time. What separates us from those 6-year-olds is that we don’t share them or use them. We tuck them away inside.
Schools have part of the blame. For most of the time you’re in school, any problem is neatly structured and has one right answer. Not only that, the person at the head of the room, knows what the right answer is. Schools make us tuck our ideas inside, so we won’t be wrong. Instead of sharing out own ideas, we guess what the teacher wants.
Bosses have a lot to do with why we’re not like those 6-year-olds. Too many bosses are like one who told a friend of mine “They pay you to listen to me, not the other way around.” So, once again, we learn to tuck those ideas inside. After all, they’re not wanted. They might even be ridiculed.
Companies bear part of the blame, too. Most companies search for great big, fully formed ideas. They have elaborate evaluation systems to find it. But most ideas don’t start out big. They don’t start out finished, either. Companies that make good use of ideas and get lots of them from the people who work there are the ones that try ideas quickly and then work to make them better. Most of us don’t work for a company like that.
Those 6-year-old fountains of good ideas have turned into 26-year-old or 66-year-old idea deserts. That 6-year-old hasn’t gone away. That 6-year-old is still inside you.
You Get to Choose Whether You Reclaim Your Creativity
It’s not enough to just know that you have good ideas. If you want to become that fountain of ideas you were when you were 6, you must choose to let 6-year-old you out.
You need to share ideas with others and talk about them. You need to try them out and see how they work. You need to put them to use. And improve them.
But wait, there’s more.
Making It Work
Here are some things that you can do to increase the quantity and quality of your ideas.
Enrich your inputs. The more rich ideas and information and insights you put into your brain, the more connections are possible. Connections are where great ideas come from. Increase the quality of what you put in and you will increase the quality ofl what you get out.
Let your Default Mode Network work. The Default Mode Network is the part of your brain that’s working all the time. When you’re concentrating on something, the Default Mode Network is in the background not using much energy and not interfering. When you stop concentrating, your Default Mode Network goes to work with the inputs you’ve been creating. Those flashes of insight come from your Default Mode Network at work. So, work on a project for a while. Then, take a break and do something else that’s not too mentally strenuous. The ideas will come.
Capture new ideas. We get a lot of ideas, but they fly away just about as fast as they arrive. If you want your ideas to make a difference, you must capture them. Use a small notebook, index cards, or a small digital recorder to capture your ideas when you get them.
Test your ideas. Most of the ideas we get seem great when they’re inside our brain, but don’t really work out in practice. The only way to find out if your idea really works is to try it. When you discuss your idea with others, they may see ways to improve it. When you try things on a small scale, you learn what works and what doesn’t.
Now you know you can act more creatively and you know how. What do you choose?
School, bosses, and companies drove your creativity inside.
You can be the fountain of ideas you were when you were 6.
You get good ideas all the time.
Capture your ideas.
Share your ideas.
Test your ideas.
Improve your ideas.