Advertising
Advertising

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]

Advertising

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.

Advertising

    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.

      Advertising

      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.

        Advertising

        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

        The Ultimate Night Routine Guide: Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive Stop Waiting For Your Dream Job and Go Ask For It How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late Is Fear Holding You Back? Need a Breakthrough from the Limitations Holding you Back?

        Trending in Smartcut

        1 10 Most Successful Entrepreneurs and What We Can Learn from Them 2 What Does Success Look Like? Revealed by 12 Highly Successful People 3 The Ultimate Night Routine Guide: Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive 4 How to Switch Careers and Get Closer to Your Dream Job 5 Stop Waiting For Your Dream Job and Go Ask For It

        Read Next

        Advertising
        Advertising
        Advertising

        Last Updated on May 15, 2019

        10 Most Successful Entrepreneurs and What We Can Learn from Them

        10 Most Successful Entrepreneurs and What We Can Learn from Them

        Apart from making crucial decisions for their own businesses, entrepreneurs innovate and grow their ideas. Albeit there being no cookie-cutter answer that fits everyone’s experiences, taking a look at some of the most successful entrepreneurs today, you might spot some similar traits and characteristics.

        Starting and nurturing a business entails a great amount of hard work and commitment. However, for aspiring entrepreneurs who are prepared to dedicate themselves to their vision, here are 10 most successful entrepreneurs you can learn from:

        1. Melanie Perkins: Know Your Worth and Keep Trying

          Melanie Perkins founded Canva, a Sydney-based business valued at $1Billion having successfully raised a number of rounds of successful funding and boasting more than 10 Million users in 179 countries.[1]

          She told BBC that one of the biggest challenges she faced getting into the business was talking about her company’s accomplishments when she first got to Silicon Valley. She attributed this difficulty to a cultural difference where Australians tend to ‘talk down’ their achievements and this would slow down her fundraising progress for a few years.

          Despite hundreds of rejections, Melanie emerged three years later with a much clearer strategy and stronger investor pitch that prompted a series of fundraising rounds netting the company $82Million of funding in total.[2]

          2. Bill Gates: Keep Learning and Exploring

            If you don’t know Bill Gates, you likely know the company he founded – Microsoft.

            Bill Gates’ story is a prime example of nurturing an idea that might seem out of this world but make sense in the future. One of the most successful entrepreneurs in history did not complete his degree at Harvard University to pursue a vision that the technology would soon become the future.

            He told a white lie to Altair, saying that he had made a computer program for them, therefore pushing himself to create a system that would change modern history.

            “The most important speed issue is convincing everyone that the company’s survival depends on moving as fast as possible.”

            Gates’ success is built on self-improvement and the seeds of an idea.

            3. Elon Musk: Never Stop Innovating

              Traditional thinking suggests that in order to become a successful entrepreneur, one must focus in a single field or industry.

              Elon Musk, however, breaks that rule.

              Today, the multifaceted tech entrepreneur, investor, and engineer advocates for the diversification of skills and businesses by delving into various fields of interest.

              When done right, skills in a single domain can be carried over then applied into contrasting industries to create something new the world might need. Musk owes his accomplishments to a constant thirst for knowledge.

              Having birthed Tesla and a myriad of products across the arenas of aeronautics and software design, Musk continues to evolve as an entrepreneur and plans to innovate for the long haul.

              4. Richard Branson: Develop People First

                British entrepreneur Richard Branson founded Virgin Records in the early 1970s. Virgin Records has since grown into the Virgin Group, today responsible for over 400 companies.

                The billionaire is strongly particular about working with a team that shares his core values and aspirations.

                Branson believes that managing a business can become taxing, thus he acknowledges his employees for putting in the effort that they have.

                Advertising

                A good leader knows how to raise morale for positive productivity. Utilising emotional intelligence and compassion is a game changer in seeing results within a team.

                Branson’s supports the idea of nurturing a positive work environment, with the belief that credentials must go hand-in-hand with an enthusiasm for work.

                5. Jeff Bezos: A Relentless Focus on Customer Satisfaction

                  Having founded Amazon, Jeff Bezos is known to be one of America’s most successful entrepreneurs. The e-commerce pioneer fixates himself on angry customers with the belief that a business’s loopholes are found in the experiences of unsatisfied customers.

                  For the 8th year in a row, customers have ranked Amazon as the number one in customer service (according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index).

                  While numerous companies ignore unhappy customers, Bezos found success in learning from reviews and surveys. By focusing on customer service, Amazon shows they care, both for their customers and for rising above their competitors.

                  While praise and recognition are signs that a business is accelerating, criticism is an opportunity to improve a product or a service.

                  6. Mark Zuckerberg: Start Small, Think Big

                    Valued at over 55 billion dollars today, Mark Zuckerberg built the first version of what would become a social networking giant in his Harvard University dorm room. As one of the world’s youngest entrepreneurs, Zuckerberg undoubtedly took countless calculated risks to get his brilliant idea to its current status with 2.38 billion active monthly users.

                    “The biggest risk is not taking any risk.”

                    He’s always daring to explore with a fearless mindset.

                    Advertising

                    The young tech entrepreneur never shied away from innovating outside of the box. Soon after Facebook became a hit to users and advertisers, big corporations took interest in buying Facebook from Zuckerberg.

                    However, he took the risk and decided to stay with his creation. Turning down billions of dollars offered by Yahoo CEO, Terry Semel, he envisioned turning his brainchild into something much bigger than what it already was then.

                    7. Steve Jobs: Live Your Own Dreams

                      Steve Jobs lived a rocky path all his life and an aspect of which is a tumultuous career.

                      The founder of Apple endorsed his beliefs on the temporality of life and limitations of time. He preached about the importance of working on the very legacies people wish to leave behind, an achievement he’s undoubtedly etched into the the archives of human history.

                      Never one to hide under someone’s shadow, Jobs did not live by anybody else’s principles so he formed his own. He tirelessly dedicated himself to building a unique brand of products that became the benchmark for contemporary technology.

                      After his highs and lows through his brief battle with cancer, Jobs concludes with yet another lesson to takeaway from his remarkable life. “No matter how much money you have, even the richest man can’t buy time.”

                      8. Warren Buffett: Balance is Essential to Success

                        Despite being the third wealthiest person in the world, Warrant Buffett sported a frugal lifestyle for most of his life.

                        After buying a house in Omaha, Nebraska for just above 31,000 dollars, he has lived there since 1958. As a leading investor and a founder at Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett believes in setting aside an amount to save and spend only on necessities.

                        With a long term goal as a top priority in mind always, treating oneself can be sustainable once in a while. He advices to save money by deciding first and foremost what aspects to scrimp on and what aspects to splurge on to ensure a happy and balanced lifestyle.

                        Advertising

                        9. Jack Ma: Never Give up

                          On every journey to success, everybody stumbles and arrives at roadblocks. Some more than most, like Jack Ma, who survived countless rejections and failures only to get back up and brave every storm.

                          Ma is the founder of multinational technology conglomerate Alibaba Group. Despite being rejected to Harvard after every one of his 10 applications, Ma was never defeated.

                          His grit and tenacity is a fine testament to the fact that grades do not determine a future. While qualifications on paper are important, the development of skills and an attitude is just as helpful in making a recipe for success.

                          Despite finding himself in the verge of bankruptcy in the 1990s, Jack Ma possessed the resilience to put one foot in front of the other until he finally made it. “It’s important to have patience,” he says.

                          10. Tan Min Liang: Passion Can Pay Off

                            Tan Min Liang is the founder of the leading high-performance gaming hardware, Razer. Always on the look out for new opportunities to connect and scale his business, Tan has been bold in making many of his life’s decisions.

                            Having deviated from a traditional path set by a family that consists of doctors and lawyers, Tan was to find his life’s work and passion while gaming with his older brother.

                            The idea was simple: there were so many games out there to play, however, there were hardly any gaming equipment to match this.

                            So he dropped out of law and began going a different direction, into creating solutions in the gaming industry. At the start of 2019, Tan wrote to tech luminary Elon Musk to which Musk’s reply suggested of a joint venture between two of the most successful entrepreneurs today.

                            Final Thoughts

                            In today’s cutthroat world, the road to becoming a successful entrepreneur is a long and arduous process trailed with ups and downs. A valuable lesson that a good hand of entrepreneurs would love to convey to aspiring entrepreneurs is to keep the spirit of innovation and to explore uncharted waters.

                            Advertising

                            Learning from experience and failure is one direction to a desired end goal. Exhibiting the same dedication and grit so many entrepreneurs have through their unexpected careers – today’s budding visionaries ought to hang on their dreams and leave room for improvement along the way.

                            More Articles About Entrepreneurship

                            Featured photo credit: Patrick Tomasso via unsplash.com

                            Reference

                            Read Next