Ideas can change everything. A little neuron firing in your head and you are a different person, living a different life, climbing higher mountains and making better friends.

But what do you do when you don’t have any new ideas? Or the ideas that you have are not good enough?

how to get ideas

Ideas: where do you get them from?

I have been asked that question on national television. My answer – on the spur of the moment, such is live television – was, “through movement!”

The phrase in Urdu is “harkat may barkat” — there’s blessing in movement!

The Movement Movement

Whenever I want a fresh perspective, I get out, meet new people, ask lots of questions, read another good book, watch another video, visit a good blog, a good article. I end up with a list of ideas related to the specific issue.

Even if the “issue” is highly abstract such as “what am I doing with my life?” or the more useful paraphrasing of the same issue, “what do I want to do with my life?“, the answer can come from most unlikely of places.

And how do you end up in the most unlikely of places? By moving about. Literally, through movement.

Sounds too simple. But like most things in life, it works because it is so simple.

Move as in Move About

Pretty much all of my business ideas, for example, are a direct result of someone else’s input.

The businesses that I’ve earned a living from were not ideas that were discussed, these were ideas that were executed.

But those ideas came as a result of meeting the right people, asking questions and a lot of listening.

These things wouldn’t have happened if I had just closed myself off and sat in a room, with the lights down, music playing in the background and thinking alone.

Note: alone time is essential, but nothing beats ideas that come from moving about, putting yourself in different surroundings and situations and meeting a wide variety of people.

Move as in Just Start

Another way of looking at “movement” is this:

If you are stuck, just start. You’ve thought about it and you can’t find a viable answer, can’t get a decent idea? Fair enough. Fuhgeddaboudid! Just start. But what will I do? The first thing that comes to your mind! Just start “moving”!

A friend of mine, a highly-paid (mashAllah!) project manager in one of the largest telecommunication companies in the world recently told me,

as a project manager, my job is to finalize the costing of a project,” note that the projects he’s directly responsible for have costs anywhere between ten to hundreds of millions of dollars, “and in many cases, we really truly do not know where to start! So what we do is gather the key persons involved, and just start. Literally, we just throw open the spreadsheets, blast them onto the projector and someone asks a question, then someone asks another. Soon we get start getting answers. And within the first 15 minutes or so, everyone in the room is confidently working on sorting it all out.

(He recently won the best project manager award within his company)

The Ideas Trap

Getting good ideas is important. But Ideas are also misunderstood. We sometimes exaggerate their importance, don’t we?

When was the last time you were happy of having an idea that someone else executed?

You see a new shop in the market and you smirk, “I had that idea before!” And you feel this “idea-having capability” is something to be proud of. You are being the wrong kind of philosopher and you need the practitioner in you to take control.

If there is one idea you can implement, it’s the idea that all ideas are worthless unless implemented. (click here to tweet this line)

So here is my question to you:

How do you get your ideas? Do you have something to say when you’re asked, “how can I get more ideas on this or that?”. Comment here.

Photo courtesy csm_web

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