Where Do Great Ideas Come From

A while back, I had e-mail correspondence with someone I barely know who asked if I ever watched The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch, which is no longer in production but there is a book* and you can find bits here and there on the internet with a search. When someone comes by with a little tip like that out of nowhere, I pay attention. My experience shows that there is probably something I need to see there. So I responded that I had not, and thanked her for the referral. I watched some episodes, and I enjoyed the show.

I also noticed an interesting phenomenon…

On the show, one of the main things Donny Deutsch does is to try and get insight with each person featured on the show about exactly where and how they got that big idea. This makes total sense because that is the name of the show, after all, so people really should expect that question. Nevertheless, each time he asks it, the person pauses for a moment and looks as if they are processing that question and aren’t quite sure what to say. As if they are saying to themselves, “Hey, that is a good question, where did that idea come from?” And, it is a pertinent question because essentially Donny is trying to educate and coach people in his audience to find their own big idea and go for it.

The question is difficult because when people have a great idea, they are fully engaged in whatever it is they’re studying at the time inspiration strikes. All they remember is that they were busy following their noses, uncovering clues, letting one thing lead to another, and it all seemed obvious at the time…until they get this question anyway. That is when it becomes apparent they were just in their creative flow, and it’s hard to explain.

Creativity is something that we all have if we can open to it. The first step for someone who is sitting around wanting ideas but having none is to remove all barriers to getting into the flow of creativity. Creativity can’t occur while sitting in judgment of every thought that pops into your head. A person has to open their mind and be comfortable with the creative process. Some people are very good at tapping into their creative source consistently; others might have to be reminded to let go and play a little.

Begin by exploring things that catch your eye, just follow your nose a bit and see what happens. Once you have gathered some info, give yourself a rest and see what your wonderfully creative mind cooks up. When you feel a little kick of enthusiasm, you may be on to something.

Goal Setting Process

Those who write their goals down are more likely to reach them. For me, writing down the main ones in a few categories on an annual basis is a good way to go. I use the time around my birthday each year to inventory goals achieved and set goals for the next year. I pick the most important ones to me and break them down into smaller steps to be accomplished each month or quarter along the way to my next birthday. I learned this technique by reading Maximum Achievement: Strategies and Skills That Will Unlock Your Hidden Powers to Succeed* by Brian Tracy.

Goal setting is a very personal thing, though. We all have to take the time to learn what works best for us and stick to that. If a technique sounds good to you, try it for a month or so. Check your motivation and results at the end of the month to determine if that system is a keeper for you. Finding what works best is simply a trial and error exercise. Most importantly, keep trying.

When there is a goal you do not reach in by the deadline, it is time to reassess whether it’s still relevant to keep it on the list for the next year. If it is, no harm done, you just estimated wrong about when you could get it accomplished. So put it on the list again and spend time feeling what it will be like to reach that goal. Then try again. If it is no longer relevant to you, then let it go without worrying about it any further. Turns out it was just not important enough in the grander scheme of things.

Living in the moment and being fully present is also a critical idea to remember when goal setting. It can be easy to be distracted with anticipating a future goal or accomplishment that you must achieve before you can move on or allow happiness in your life. But, there is no need to be unhappy seeking a time in the future when all is will be accomplished. Even though it is important to outline goals and work towards accomplishments, it is also imperative to learn to enjoy the process.