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The 6 Simplest Ways to Generate Great Ideas

The 6 Simplest Ways to Generate Great Ideas

Want to generate great ideas? You can. Ideas come to us every day, many more than we could ever use. We dismiss most of them, without making an effort to record them. This is unfortunate. We may dismiss an idea which would change the world.

Decide now, that you’ll give your ideas – all of them, no matter how wacky they appear on the surface – the respect they deserve. You’re a complete original. There’s never been anyone like you, and there never will be again. Decide that you’ll generate ideas daily, and that you’ll act on at least one idea a week.

Let’s look at some simple ways to generate great ideas.

1. Generate ten ideas every day.

The simplest, and yet the best way to generate great ideas is to generate LOTS of ideas. Out of quantity comes quality.

Pick a topic each day. Then, generate ten ideas on that topic, off the top of your head. Don’t think about it too much. Just make a list from one to ten, then jot down your ideas. Keep all your ideas. You’ll be amazed at the results.

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We’re all creative. Sadly, mostly we ignore our creative intuitions. When you set out to deliberately generate a flow of ideas each day, you’ll strengthen your idea-generation muscles.

2. Read more. Skim books.

Use Amazon and its “Look Inside” technology to keep up with new thinking in your field. Skim most books, but download and read important books. Over time, you’ll become a thought leader in your field. Reading is vital to idea generation.

Vital: make notes on the books you read. If you read books on your ereader, highlight passages and add your own notes. You can find all your highlights and notes on your Amazon Kindle pages – click Your Highlights at the top of the page.

Visit your local library too, and browse books there.

The more ideas you’re aware of, the more you can combine ideas to create breakthrough ideas.

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3. Draw your ideas to restructure them.

Can’t draw? That’s OK. Symbols and stick figures work well.

This article Hand-Sketching: Things You Didn’t Know Your Doodles Could Accomplish encourages hand-sketching to externalize your ideas.

The article reports:

Restructuring transforms one configuration into another, and in scientific studies, advanced hand-sketchers score highest at restructuring when they are allowed to sketch. In an experiment by Verstijnen, sketchers were shown to be better than non-sketchers at modifying their initial ideas and coming up with novel changes.

Try it. Many creative people doodle, often without realizing that they’re doing it. You can doodle deliberately to generate fresh ideas from combinations of ideas.

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4. Distance yourself psychologically to generate better ideas.

An article in Scientific American on an easy way to increase creativity recommends inducing psychological distance, to be able to think more abstractly:

An abstract representation, on the other hand, might refer to the corn plant as a source of energy or as a fast growing plant. These more abstract thoughts might lead us to contemplate other, less common uses for corn, such as a source for ethanol, or to use the plant to create mazes for children.

The article reports that studies “suggest that even minimal cues of psychological distance can make us more creative.”

Imagine the topic for which you’re generating ideas to be geographically further away from you. This is easy to do. Think of a topic: for example, how to get your boss to give you a raise. Now imagine your boss on the other side of the globe, and generate a list of ten ideas.

It’s easy to test whether psychological distance helps you to come up with great ideas.

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5. Become more social.

When you meet and chat with new people, whether online or offline, you’re exposed to new ways of thinking. You’re also able to restructure and reframe your own experiences. You may find that when you describe a current challenge to someone who doesn’t know you well, you come up with some great ideas for solutions.

6. Break your patterns.

You’ve established patterns of behavior and thought over time. Deliberately start to change those patterns.

Think about a current challenge you have. Let’s say you want some capital to invest in a friend’s new venture. You don’t have any money. Formerly, you might have shrugged this off, deciding to forget this opportunity.

You write down: “capital to invest.” You list ten ways of finding investment funds, finally deciding that you’ll set up a Kickstarter campaign. Your contribution to your friend’s venture will be the time and energy you put into crowd-funding.

Breaking old patterns is hard, but not impossible. Whenever you think “no,” describe the problem or opportunity. Writing things down, and coming up with ideas ensures that you will, sooner or later, come up with great ideas.

Try these six simple ways to generate great ideas. One method is sure to work for you. Start generating ideas today.

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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