Believe it or not, ideas develop exponentially. The more ideas you have, the more ideas you will generate, both in term of quantity and quality. In human history, we have a phenomenon called technological acceleration. Do you know that the technological advancements in the last century is more than those in the thousand years of previous history combined? That happens because innovations and ideas develop exponentially. Now I will show you why.
If I have two ideas – A and B – I can only derive one new idea from those which is AB. If I have three ideas – A, B, and C – I can derive four new ideas which are AB, AC, BC, and ABC. If I have four ideas – A, B, C, and D – I can then derive eleven new ideas which are AB, AC, AD, BC, BD, CD, ABC, ABD, ACD, BCD, and ABCD.
To give you clearer picture of the exponential effect, here are the numbers above and some more:
- 2 ideas generate 1 new ideas.
- 3 ideas generate 4 new ideas.
- 4 ideas generate 11 new ideas.
- 5 ideas generate 26 new ideas.
- 6 ideas generate 57 new ideas.
- 7 ideas generate 120 new ideas.
This numbers help explain technological acceleration. Innovations in the last century is more than all those in the previous history combined because the recent civilization has more “raw ideas” and “raw innovations” to begin with.
The same thing applies to your personal life. The more ideas you have, the more new ideas you will get. The virtuous cycle begins, and your ideas will develop exponentially.
How can you start this virtuous cycle and develop your ideas exponentially? Here is a key characteristic of ideas:
The example above gives us good illustration. A and B are two different ideas, but if we cross pollinate them by interconnecting them, we will get a new idea which is AB. So:
The key to develop new ideas is getting different ideas and then interconnecting them.
Here are some simple steps you can do:
- Develop multiple passions
This step gives you the different ideas you need. I’ve written that the way to live a rich life is by developing portfolio of passions. Don’t narrow yourself to only one passion. Expand yourself and develop your multiple passions. If you are too focused to only one area, it is unlikely that you will develop fresh ideas for that area. Remember that ideas are cross-pollinating. You need ideas from different fields which can enrich one another. Plant and grow different flowers in your garden of life, and they will cross-pollinate.
- Be observant
Now that you are developing multiple passions to get different ideas, you need to be observant to catch those ideas. Instead of passively waiting for ideas to come and catch your attention, you should actively search them in your daily life. Be hungry to catch the hidden ideas in your daily experiences. Never let the ideas in your surroundings go unnoticed, even if they try to hide from you.
- Always write down you the ideas you get
Once you catch an idea, never let it go. Capture them permanently by writing them down. You should do it as soon as possible because some ideas can easily disappear within one minute or less. For this reason I always bring a piece of paper and a pen wherever I go (see 4 Simple Ways to Never Lose Your Ideas). When I get an idea, I will quickly write them down in the paper. I don’t want to risk losing that idea.
- Review your ideas regularly
This is just as important as writing the ideas. What’s the use of writing the ideas if you never review them? This simple step greatly helps you interconnect your ideas. Reviewing your ideas makes them stick in your memory and makes them ready to be cross-pollinated with other ideas.
Later when you read something or encounter something in your daily life, you may suddenly remember, “Wait. I can apply this to that, right?” And there a new idea is born.