Finding ideas is not easy, but finding good ideas is even more difficult. So how can we find good ideas? There is a lesson about it I learned from the book On Writing Well:
You should always collect more material than you will use. Every article is strong in proportion to the surplus of details from which you can choose the few that will serve you best.
This paragraph talks about how to find good ideas for an article, but I believe the same principle also applies to business and life. To find good ideas, you should:
- Have as many ideas as possible, and then
- Choose the few ideas that serve you best
In other words, you should have the habit of collecting as many unfiltered ideas as possible, so that you can choose the best ones out of them. This is not a new principle; brainstorming sessions do this. But sometimes we forget this principle and try to find good ideas directly without first collecting many ideas.
With this principle in mind, here are some steps to find good ideas:
1. Expect ideas from every situation
Don’t limit yourself to find ideas only in the situations that you think suit your problem best. Often we find fresh ideas from unexpected sources. Therefore, whatever you do and whoever you meet, open your eyes and be prepared to get new ideas. For instance, be prepared to find ideas when:
- You read something, even if it seems unrelated.
- You talk to someone, whoever he or she is.
- You watch television or video
- You work out
- You see people do things
2. Bring a capture tool wherever you go
If you expect ideas from every situation, consequently you should always be prepared to capture your ideas. So bring a capture tool wherever you go (see also tips to never lose your ideas). Mine is simply a folded piece of paper and a pen in my pocket. Whenever an idea pops up, I just take them and quickly write the idea down. Later I will transfer all the ideas on the paper into my computer.
3. Don’t filter the ideas you get
This is an important principle. Whenever I try to filter my ideas from the beginning, I find the quantity and quality of the ideas decrease. Your task for now is just to get as many ideas as possible – you will worry about filtering later. Remember the quote from On Writing Well above: “You should always collect more material than you will use.”
4. After you’ve collected enough ideas, filter them
After you think you’ve collected enough ideas, then it’s the time to filter them. Again, from the quote above: “choose the few that will serve you best.” Now that you have enough ideas to choose from, chance is you will have a few that are good.
Besides collecting as many ideas as possible, it’s good to increase the quality of your input. That way you can have higher-quality ideas to choose from. Here are some tips to increase the quality of input:
- Diversify your reading
- Choose the most important book to read next
- Get the most out of your reading
- Surround yourself with positive people
- Find a mentor
- Use the art of arbitrage and increase your arbitrage power
Do you have other tips to find good ideas? I would love to hear them.
Photo by [O*] ‘BharaT