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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.

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        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

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        Leon Ho

        Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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        Last Updated on June 1, 2021

        10 Effective Ways To Make You a Fast Learner

        10 Effective Ways To Make You a Fast Learner

        The importance of learning cannot be underestimated. Learning empowers us to fulfill our ideas and realize our full potential. The speed of gaining new knowledge is practically as important as its volume. Who wouldn’t love to remember tons of information as quickly as possible?

        If you want to start learning faster, you need a new approach towards the process which would enable you to comprehend the essence of the matter and relate it with new concepts you encounter.

        The following 10 tips will help you become a fast learner:

        1. Analyze Your Learning Style

        Before you can start experimenting with different studying methods, you need to understand what type of learner you are:

        Is your memory associated to sound?

        Maybe you can remember what you were reading when a particular song was playing? If this is your case, then you fall into the category of auditory learners.

        If you want to start studying more efficiently, then it would be wise to record the lectures and listen to them instead of reading textbooks.

        Do you relate information to visual content?

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        If you are a visual learner, you should implement images, graphs, charts, infographics, colorful lists, flashcards, and other types of visual content when you study.

        Are you a physical learner?

        If your learning style is not auditory or visual, then you might be a physical learner. Some students have too much energy; they tap their feet or play with a pen during lectures.

        A walk before a lecture will calm your nerves down. You can try studying or listening to audio lectures during a walk. That will help you remember the information more quickly.

        2. Use the Right EdTech Tools

        Technology has the power of making everything easier. There are plenty of websites, online tools, and smartphone/tablet apps that will boost your skills of planning, writing, time management and brainstorming, etc.

        One way of improving your productivity is using flashcards. You can make your own cards, but you can also download pre-made kits online:

        • StudyBlue is one of the best online destinations when it comes to creating and discovering flashcards from all areas of study.
        • If you are looking for a tool that makes the process of brainstorming more effective, then you should try PapersGear.
        • You also need the SelfControl app, which will eliminate all distractions when you need to stay focused.
        • Quizlet is another website you should bookmark; it offers study tools that will transform the learning process into a fun activity.
        • Notella is an app that will help you take quick notes at any time.
        • Brainscape is an educational platform that makes complex subjects easy by relying on cognitive science.
        • You can also try Dragon Dictation, especially if you are an audio learner.

        3. Train Your Brain to Accept New Information

        Efficient studying is a habit. Your brain needs constant training if you want to improve your focus and complete complex tasks without taking breaks.

        One way to achieve this goal is to create a private learning space in your home. You’ll also need a specific time of day that you’ll devote to studying. That will make your brain ready to accept the information it gets, so you’ll notice you’re starting to learn much faster by the day.

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        4. Get Some Exercise

        You are aware of the fact that physical activity is good for your body, but your brain needs it too!

        Light exercise, such as yoga, can help you learn much faster. If you are inactive throughout the day, your body will want to move, so it will be difficult for you to stay focused.

        If, on the other hand, you canalize your energy through light training sessions, you will be ready to study productively.

        5. Work on the Ambiance

        If you have a noisy neighborhood or a working environment full of distractions, you won’t be able to learn or study no matter how hard you try.

        If you want to learn quickly, you need a quiet, distraction-free environment that won’t disturb the mind in any way. Such a peaceful place will set you in learning mode as soon as you find yourself in it.

        6. Take a Lot of Notes

        Only few people are capable of remembering information as they read it. If you don’t belong to this category of privileged learners, then you absolutely need to start taking notes.

        This simple learning method will force you to think about the essence of the material. It will also give you a nice framework that will help you review the things you’ve learned.

        Write down only the most important information. That will help you remember all the other things you’ve learned.

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        Here’re some tips to take notes effectively: Why Successful People Take Notes And How to Make It Your Habit

        7. Make Mind Maps

        Mind maps are among the best tools to speed up the learning process. Your mind will process information effectively if you create a visual representation of the things you’re about to learn.

        You can create a nice mind map in the old-school way: take a large sheet of paper and organize all facts and explanations. Use pictures, note-cards, and other symbols you can think of. Group similar items together and connect them with colorful pens.

        Some tips mind-mapping here: How to Mind Map: Visualize Your Cluttered Thoughts in 3 Simple Steps

        Of course, you can also use an online mind mapping tool if you want to save yourself some time.

        8. Experiment with Memorization Methods

        Memorizing is often misused in the process of studying. Some people memorize whole sentences, paragraphs and lectures without grasping their essence.

        However, memorization can be useful when you need to learn definitions and classifications really quickly. Don’t avoid this technique if you want to fill your brain with information without wasting any time.

        Try this if you want to memorize more and faster: How to Memorize More and Faster Than Other People

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        9. Find the Right Context

        Memorization works solely in times of urgency. If you want to learn in the most effective manner, then you need to have context for information.

        Find an aspect that’s interesting for you; try to research for related information, and you’ll discover the joy of learning.

        The first step? Jot down as much information and as many ideas as possible: How Simply Jotting Down Ideas Can Make You Smarter

        With time, this practice will make you a faster learner.

        10. Study Every Day

        It will take some time before you get used to a daily studying routine, but your mind will eventually grasp the habit.

        The more frequently you study, the less time it will take for you to remember the things you read.

        If you start studying as soon as possible after you have learned some new concepts, it won’t take long at all for you to get ready for an exam. Now that sounds really good, doesn’t it?

        More to Help You Learn Quicker

        Featured photo credit: Becca Tapert via unsplash.com

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