Have you ever wondered where ideas come from? Where to find brilliant ones? How successful people come up with them? The common perception is that we just hit on ideas, fortuity, coincidence, accident et voilà. Some may argue that we stumble upon ideas by way of observation, searching inspiration and incubation. Other may claim that ideas blunder on us, unexpectedly. We used to call it ‘a Eureka moment’, muse or illumination. It is no coincidence that a lightbulb is used as the common symbol of an idea; we put it down to chance.
But maybe we are focusing on the wrong problem? This was aptly encapsulated by Dee Hock, Founder of the Visa Credit Card Association, who said that the problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into the mind, but how to get the old ones out. So, our question should rather be: “How do you pull out ideas?”
There is no bang,, no accident, What we need is an efficient way of actively searching for ideas, rather than waiting for an idea to come about. Einstein once said that there are millions of answers in the universe, and it is up to us which question to ask. So, the way is simply to ask the right questions. This is not only to gratify own curiosity, simply, if you do not know what the question is, you cannot tell which answer is correct. Futhermore, the problem well stated is half solved (Charles F. Kettering). Let us then follow our innate curiosity, and ideas will flow by themselves. However, as usual, there is a catch:
“Reason can answer questions but imagination has to ask them”
– Ralph Gerard, an American neurophysiologist
Curiosity and imagination; we all have them since childhood, so we just have to remember how to use them. Looking back, we followed natural curiosity, which did not allow us to bypass any puddle – there was so much to discover and plenty to fish out.
What if we could use our imagination deliberately, and have the ideas on call? It is all possible. We have to set out fishing with curiosity, imagination and an open mind – just as a child would. Do not be afraid to look into every puddle, the ideas may lie within.