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The Secret Place Where All Great Ideas Are Born

The Secret Place Where All Great Ideas Are Born

Where do great ideas come from? The cliched view is that they come fully formed in a flash of inspiration. You’ve probably seen this in films or on TV, a character might be working over night trying to come up with a big idea, and suddenly their idea hits them.

However, the reality is actually far more complicated. The truly great ideas, are the product of processes. They are the product of what a person sees and gets in touch with every day that combine to influence a thought. A random thought turns into an idea, then the idea is worked on.

Consider twitter, twitter was originally not conceived as as a social network, but instead as an alternative to SMS messaging. The original 140 wasn’t a creative gimmick, but was instead reflected the technological limitations of the mobile phone format (at the time).[1]

Uber came from a conversation between friends where they were complaining about how hard it was to find a decent taxi.[2]

The idea for Airbnb came when the founders were struggling to pay rent, and needed a way to earn some extra money. Most of the hotel rooms in the city were booked up thanks to a local conference, so they thought that they could exploit this by providing extra space in their apartment for overnight guests.[3]

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All of these ideas came to revolutionize their respective fields, and none of them came fully formed at the very beginning. Our view of how great ideas are born is thus inaccurate and is even potentially harmful.

We murder good ideas that are incubating

Usually when we hear about these ideas, it is when they are at their most successful. We don’t see the weeks, months, and years where the initial idea was developed, or the successes and early failures of the business. As a result we naturally assume the ideas were fantastic and fully formed from the start.

We assume that is where good ideas come from.A study has shown that the human brain favors any action or option which uses the least amount of energy.[4] So where it might be more useful to come up with ten different ideas for us to work on, we struggle to come up with one to save up energy. So we try very hard to come up with a fantastic idea.

But even if we do come up with an idea, we have no idea whether it is good or not because it doesn’t have concrete details on how it’s going to work. Without the details and a plan to take action on the idea, we judge its failure early before it can incubate into something great. Unless an idea is executed, our brains are unable to determine whether an idea is going to be great or not.

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    Think about the companies mentioned at the beginning of this article. The idea for each one of them came from the creators trying fulfill a need, they found themselves faced with a particular problem (like failing to find a good taxi as in the case with Uber), and as a result they came up with a random idea directly related to it, that random idea became the solution to it.

    But if we think we will come up with the next big idea without placing ourselves in the right context, and don’t allow for ideas to come to us naturally, then it is guaranteed that they won’t come to us at all. Instead we get stuck.

      The truth is, good ideas are random

      One day you might come up with ten ideas, of those ten, one might be an okay idea. We might often instinctively reject an idea that we judge to merely be “okay”. However, an okay idea can become a fantastic idea with work, and ideas that are truly great from the start are so rare that they might as well not exist.

      It’s like with novel writing. A truly brilliant book tends to be the product of months if not years of hard work, of endless re-writes. But as we read the novel at the time it is finished, we assume it was great from the start.

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      There is a famous story about Jack Kerouac, an American novelist, who wrote his famous novel On the Road over a three week period, almost without stopping for a break. For this to have been possible, surely the idea must have been brilliant from the start right? Well, this famous story isn’t true.

      Sure, he once typed up a draft of it in three weeks. But from him coming up with the idea, to finishing the book took over seven years. The ideas for the story came to him naturally while he was travelling, or at times he wrote about things that actually happened to him. There was never a point where he suddenly had this brilliant idea that he was able to quickly turn into a masterpiece of literature.

      All that is needed is the right stimulation

      Great ideas then come from what we see, what we hear, the people we speak to, and most importantly, a great idea can come as the solution to a problem, (like what we saw with Twitter, Uber, and Airbnb). This can be tricky, it can often be easy to be disheartened when faced with a problem.

        But that’s what innovation is, true innovation comes from either resolving a problem or finding a gap in the market which can be filled by a great idea. So next time you are faced with a problem, see this as an opportunity. Even if a solution exists, you might be able to think of a better one.

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        Read more about how you can come up with a great idea by finding a problem and solve it: Albert Einstein’s Problem-Solving Formula that Still Works Like a Charm

        Your next great idea might not seem great at first. It might just seem like an okay idea, a mediocre one, or even a bad one, all ideas need work. So don’t judge any at first, let ideas come naturally and write them down. It doesn’t matter how bad they seem, just write them down.

        Don’t worry about organizing them either, in fact it’s good not to. You might miss a good idea while you’re working on the organization. Organizing at this stage will just mean that you’re giving yourself an extra job to do which may slow you down or even make you lose motivation.

        If you want tips with this stage, check out this article: How Simply Jotting Down Ideas Can Make You Smarter

        Remember, great ideas don’t come fully formed, so don’t try to force them.

        Reference

        [1] Lifewire: The Real History of Twitter, In Brief
        [2] Gulf Elite: Startup From The Bottom: Here Is How Uber Started Out
        [3] Get Paid for Your Pad: The Airbnb Founder Story: From Selling Cereals To A $25B Company
        [4] The Globe and Mail: Humans are hard-wired for laziness, study finds

        More by this author

        Leon Ho

        Founder & CEO of Lifehack

        How to Stop Bad Habits: 9 Scientifically Proven Methods How To Be Successful In Life: 13 Life-Changing Tips How To Be A Successful Person (And What Makes One Unsuccessful) The Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life How To Work From Home Without Getting Distracted

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        Last Updated on April 6, 2020

        How to Stop Bad Habits: 9 Scientifically Proven Methods

        How to Stop Bad Habits: 9 Scientifically Proven Methods

        Have you ever imagined why some individuals maximize every aspect of their lives?

        When they establish goals, they always attain it. It could be a goal to break an addiction, work out more, or to achieve financial freedom.

        Do you find it challenging to replicate their successes? Perhaps, you even make some attempts for a while, but then you give up before you could reach the target.

        If you experience that consistently, you can quickly become frustrated, but you don’t have to give up.

        But how long does it take to break a bad habit? Some researchers recommended a 21-day plan to permanently get rid of bad habits. Others suggest a month plan or even 3 months. The most crucial factor is to follow through whichever timeframe you choose.

        In this article, I will share with you 9 proven strategies on how to stop bad habits permanently.

        1. Make the Negative Habits Obvious

        If you desire better habits, the best approach is to make those habits visible. This strategy also applies if you are devising strategies on how to stop bad habits.

        Cues are very crucial in habit formation. James Clear, in his book Atomic Habits, recommended the use of Habit Scorecard. This is an easy exercise that helps you become conscious of your behaviors daily.

        The first step is to pen down a chronological list of your daily habits. Then, you rate each habit as an “effective,” “ineffective,” or a “neutral habit.” The importance of this strategy is that it assists you in discerning the relevance of each habit in your personal growth.[1].

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        Now that you have a list of habits, the next thing is to take the negative habits out, which leads to the next point.

        2. Start from Simple to Complex

        Everybody wants to generate a significant change as fast as they can. They want to work out for 1 hour every morning, reflect for 20 minutes when they have been managing to meditate consistently for 5 minutes, switch to eating a healthy diet.

        The challenge is it will always require strong willpower to achieve any bigger goal. Willpower is like your muscles. It becomes tired, the more you exert it. And when it retires, you will give up on achieving your goal.

        The best approach is to take out the single target, then make progress towards a higher target. You can start by dealing with the bad habits from the less serious to the more severe.

        3. Create a New Environment for Good Habits To Grow

        Several studies show that our environment influences our habits. The basis is that you depend more on what you see (visual cues) than other senses of perception. This is no doubt why visual cues define our behavior.

        To stop bad habits, you need to focus on positive cues that reinforce good habits. Another approach is to build new habits and stop exposing yourself to cues that will strengthen negative patterns. You will find it easier to avoid temptation than to resist it.

        For instance, if you want to read more books than you watch the TV, keep the remote control in another room, and position books at every corner of your house and your office.

        4. Identify the Consequences of Bad Habits

        Bad habits have grave consequences. According to WebMD, bad habits affect nearly every organ of your body. They can lead to cancer, stroke, emphysema, diabetes, heart disease, bronchitis, and other health problems. Bad habits can increase the chances of eye problems, tuberculosis, and several immune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis. It becomes easy to stop those bad habits when you are aware of their consequences.[2]

        Here’re more consequences of bad habits: 13 Bad Habits You Need to Quit Right Away

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        5. Make Bad Habits Difficult and Painful

        Do you want to eliminate those nasty habits? Then, attach an instant cost to each action or make those unhealthy behaviors difficult.

        James Clear again recommended ‘a habit contract’. This is a written agreement where you stipulate commitment to a specific habit and the punishment for not meeting up. You will also identify two individuals who will serve as accountability mentors to append on the written agreement. In this same way, make good habits simple and attach rewards for practicing them.

        6. Change Your Mindset

        Whenever you are devising a strategy on how to stop bad habits, use a ‘scientist and subject’ mindset. You will need to consider each action as a behavioral experiment where every challenge offers useful data for the subsequent step.

        Direct your energy on how to stop those bad habits daily instead of focusing on the long-term. If you follow the process, the outcomes will show up as outcomes of your daily efforts.

        7. Associate with Supporters

        The individuals you associate with have a significant influence on your habits. According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, if your friend becomes obese, you stand the risk of obesity by 57% even if that friend lives some miles away. [3]

        Other studies also added that we tend to adopt the same lifestyle, goals, and aspirations of the company we keep. If you want to stop smoking, you need to dissociate yourself from friends who smoke.

        8. Practice Positive Speaking

        Peradventure you have made these statement in the past:

        ‘This situation is seemingly hopeless.’

        ‘I don’t think I can go through this.’

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        ‘I will never be able to break through this situation.’

        ‘I will give it a shot, but…’

        ‘It’s just disgusting.’

        If you have made any of these statements, then you have been reinforcing bad habits. Psychological studies have found that the subconscious provides meaning to what it hears. Your thought pattern and your body will align with your words. Thus, if you desire more success, peak performance, and more connections, begin to speak positive words every time you open your mouth.

        The power to stop bad habits is in your words. The ability to make a good impression and create opportunities is in the words you speak.

        9. Meditate to Knock Out That Bad Habit

        Your life derives definitions from what you repeatedly do, not what you do once in a while. Thus, developing a knock-out strategy on how to stop bad habits is a must and not an option for total transformation.

        A lot of individuals have at least one or two bad habits they wish to discard. Some people are heavy smokers, and they want to quit. Some others aspire to minimize their consumption of sugar and alcohol. Some people are also battling with less dangerous habits such as nail-biting, nose picking, and they find it difficult to let go.

        Several practices exist on how to stop those bad habits. Meditation is of them.

        People who practice mindfulness and meditation achieves two things:

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        First, they become more self-aware. As you start to meditate, you progressively penetrate each layer of your being and move beyond the delusions and lies that you often believe about yourself.

        Second, they focus on reality and what they desire. Meditation assists in identifying what will satisfy you beyond what those bad habits can. You will learn how to stop bad habits by visualizing reality while discarding the bad behavior.

        In a recent study, researchers Marlatt, Rose, Pagano, and Marques studied the impact of meditation and other organized relaxation exercises among heavy social drinkers.[4] They discovered that the respondents who have histories of substantial social drinking but began to engage in meditation experienced a significant decrease in the consumption of alcohol. This means meditation can help on how to stop bad habits and illicit personal improvement in your behaviors.

        Final Thoughts

        Bad habits will prevent you from reaching your full potentials. Establish a commitment timeline to avoid procrastination and excuses. It could be a 21-day or one-month timeframe.

        It takes a higher force to dispel an effect. It takes words to overcome thoughts. Habits are the outcome of a cycle. It starts from a feeling(positive or negative), it culminates into a thought(positive or negative), then leads to action. An action is a thought that implement. Repeated action forms a habit.

        If you don’t like the outcome, block the source, which is the feeling by speaking the right words.

        Your words empower you to take control of how you feel. If you need to wake up early, for instance, you need to tell your body to rise and shine. If you don’t, your feeling will entice you to sleep more.

        Learn more about breaking bad habits and sticking to good ones:

        Featured photo credit: Jason Briscoe via unsplash.com

        Reference

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