I just LOVE good ideas and that feeling of excitement in the stomach when you uncover something new, highly relevant and rich in potential; that moment when an idea takes over your brain and you can literally feel synapses connect. I can’t get enough of it. So let’s look at ideas to provoke ideation.
With a slightly more level-headed view on it, this ‘first-kiss’-like moment of creativity is just your body releasing a cocktail of chemicals. Its most important ingredient: ‘dopamine’, a neurotransmitter famous for sparking happiness, excitement and desire*.
But dopamine does more than that. It also makes our fantasy go wild, thinking up joyful circumstances. It fuels motivation as well as curiosity, sharpens our focus and drives us to roll up our sleeves to get ‘it’ done.
All of this is of incredible value for the creative process.
So as ideation feels great and comes quite handy in life and business, too, let’s look at a collection of some easy and practical ideas for ideas (let’s make this a hashtag #ideas4ideas):
Hijacking sports for creativity
Sport is another great trigger for releasing a great deal of ‘happy chemicals’. So how about using it purposefully when you are in need of a good idea? I came up with a training pattern which quite often works for me and which I described in this post. I don’t even need to schedule extra time for these #ideas4ideas sessions, because I’m doing my workout anyway.
Noise cancelling mode for original ideas
Our world is full of distractions – and as a curious person I love it because every piece of information around me has the potential to inspire me. Distraction starts for most of us right after getting up in the morning. If you don’t have to take care of your kids, first thing in the morning for most people is checking the smartphone. You listen to the radio while taking a shower and watch TV during breakfast – this goes on and on until you go to bed.
But we need to tune this noise out from time to time if we are striving to come up with original ideas and thoughts.
Runtastic’s DONI method
At the adidas Group we’re all super stoked because Runtastic joined our team just recently and they’ve proven to be a very creative bunch of people. Since reading this article I know one of the reasons. In 2012 they introduced a monthly ‘Day of new ideas’ and have had it ever since. Read the article to get more details.
The off-topic lunch
In business we often tend to go for lunch with the same people. After all, it’s our free time and we want to surround ourselves with people we enjoy the most. However, a lunch is a great opportunity to catch up with people from an area that is totally unrelated to your own field of expertise, too. I pretty much ALWAYS feel inspired after learning more about other challenges and views which are so foreign to my world. The amount of dopamine this releases helps me not to feel the after-lunch tiredness, too.
The Monty Python lesson
“It took me a while to learn not to be too pushy and demanding with myself with regard to coming up with great, creative solutions; because quite frequently the answer hits you when you are not thinking about the problem at all.”
Your unconscious diligently worked in the ‘off’, connected the dots and came up with a super creative idea. John Cleese aka Monty Python gave very interesting insights into this phenomenon during his speech at the ‘Content Marketing World 2015’ in Cleveland. His advice for letting this phenomenon happen is to give you deliberate and dedicated time to think without an agenda from time to time. Let your thoughts come and go – e.g. just stare out of the window to escape your mental rut. Give your unconscious a fair chance to help you. This article summarizes John Cleese’s entire talk very well. You also might want to check out Guy Claxton’s book “Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind” which John Cleese referenced, too (it’s still on my own reading list).
Let’s sum it up: What all of these thoughts have in common is to actively make room for creativity. Some ideas might just hit you. But the most creative people don’t leave their creativity to chance. They make room for it.
What are your #ideas4ideas? Leave a comment here.
*Disclaimer: I’m anything but a chemist. So don’t ask for details and leave a comment for corrections. Please don’t become too nitty-gritty, though. There is a reason why I’m not a chemist 😉