Harnessing the power of ideas

To move forward you need good ideas. Good ideas are found – they won’t come to you, and it all starts with your thinking. Albert Einstein said, “Thinking is hard work. That is why so few do it.”

Real estate investments can go sour. Gold mines and stock markets tumble. Recessions come, but a human mind with the ability to think is like a diamond mine in the Yukon that never runs out. It’s priceless. To stimulate your thinking, read books, review trade magazines, spend time with good thinkers.

Sharp people sharpen one another. Find sharp people to talk to. Raise big questions. Ask for their best ideas. Share yours. Let new thoughts in, then go off by yourself and make notes. What did the conversation generate? Call them possibilities. Most people are so hard-wired from their past they don’t allow new thoughts to occur, and if the ideas they hear don’t match up, they think they aren’t possible. It is a good practice to listen for possibilities and catch yourself in judgmental listening. Practice saying out loud, “That’s possible.” Watch what happens to you. Some ideas lead to simple, clear actions to take now. Others, like possibilities, need to be developed. Whether you generate, research, or borrow them, you can find ideas.

Ideas have a short shelf life. Act before their expiration date. If you wait until you feel like doing something, you will likely never accomplish it. Just get in the discipline of action. Once you are in action, ride the thinking or feeling. One action leads to another. The feeling that comes with learning will help you stay moving.

Test your ideas with others. The best way to think through ideas and to test them is to write the idea out, put it into a plan, and bring that back to sharp thinkers. For some reason, writing leads to clarity. Another general principle of success is that you can go further with a team than you can alone. It is the same with ideas. They can go a lot further with a team. Get good at engaging others in your ideas and remember that engaging isn’t telling.

Let them think through the idea with you. Paint the picture but get them into possibilities and hard questions, then let them go. If you want genuine thoughts and committed thinking, give them space. Great ideas need landing gear as well as wings. Land them with your gut at first but always with people who will be impacted by them, especially key players who are responsible for carrying them out. Too many business and organization ideas have died because people got left out and then unintentionally undermined them. We see this all the time.


More concepts:

1.   Think like a person of action – act like a person of thought.

2.   Always be constructively discontent. How could you reduce overhead? Could you outsource what isn’t core? Could you reduce receivables, reach more customers with a better story, etc.?

3.   Test your ideas. What questions will you ask to people you know? Listen as if you are in action.

4.   Remember that people see their own world, not the real world. That makes them shortsighted, but they don’t believe they are. That goes for you too. Many people you bounce your ideas off will be shortsighted. Who you are determines what you see. If you are in sales, every idea you attract is about sales. Expand your world. Find out about marketing. Study your company’s financials. How does social media affect your business? Why not look for the truth of the big world and create from it? If you don’t, you will be narrow-minded and won’t be able to see or experience much of life. See the big picture? Expand your experience and you will expand your world. When you see the big picture, you will see the components involved, the issues, the different people and relationship situations, the values and timing. Be an expansive thinker and you will live with more wholeness.

William Arthur Ward said, “Nothing limits achievement like small thinking and nothing expands possibilities like unleashed thinking.” Successful people think differently. Be a better thinker and ideas and success will follow.

Sign up for the free IB Update – your weekly resource for local business news, analysis, voices, and the names you need to know. Click hereIf you are not already a subscriber to In Business magazine, be sure to sign up for our monthly print edition here.