Creativity – How I Get My Ideas

The purpose of this article, is to explain to you how I get my ideas, and maybe it will help you with your own ideas, etc.

Attitude: Attitude is everything! “I never win anything!” “I can never get ideas!” People who think this way, probably never will win anything and never get much in the way of ideas, because they have already convinced themselves that they can’t. The glass is half empty…or the glass is half full…take your choice. I’ve always been a positive thinker, and that’s probably one reason why I get my share of ideas. (knock on wood)

The Kiss Principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid: Whether it’s carving a piece of wood, or coaching a Little League baseball team, I’ve always subscribed to the KISS Principle, and I think this one of the most important things in idea development. I’ve always been amazed at how complex and technical some people can make things. A couple of years ago, I bought a book though a book club, and if I could have looked at the book, I would have never bought it. The book was on ideas and creativity, and it was written by a “Ph.D” at Stanford University. The book was too technical and complex for me, containing forty and fifty dollar words I couldn’t understand. I tossed it!

Those of us, who have followed sports over the years, know that when a team is losing, it could be because the game plan of the team has gotten too technical…and the game plan has to be simplified. And, over the years, I’ve heard coaches say when they’re losing…”We have to get back to the basics!” If this is done, in my view, the team will probably start winning again. There’s no difference in the idea business…keep things simple and you’ll get more ideas than you can shake a stick at. And, that’s why I tossed the book mentioned earlier…it was too complicated.

Stress: Most of us have heard the term “writer’s block,” right? For the over-all look at ideas, I’ve always preferred to use the term, “creative block,” because all people are creative in their own way. And, everybody gets blocked…some more than others. I don’t think anyone can work at their best under stressful conditions. So, to do my best to remove the stress in my life as much as possible. In my view, stress is the greatest block to creativity! If I’m not coming up with ideas, I have to start thinking about the stress in my life. Or, if there’s a good chance I will be blocked, until I can reduce or eliminate the stress.

Open mind: My father had a closed mind during his life. Difficult to deal with, as it was like talking to a wall. I think one of the best qualities a person can have, is to have an open mind to have change for the better. “My way…or the highway.” We’ve all heard that term, and people who practice this type of behavior, have closed minds and a person can not get any place with this type of person.

Being a good listener: There are probably not many people who know why Bill Gates of Microsoft is so successful and wealthy, except Bill Gates himself. But, all of us can take a guess. Bill Gates has said many times in public, that he likes to surround himself with smart and creative people. And, since ideas cannot be copyrighted, he has LISTENED to all the fabulous ideas of all those smart and creative people he has hired…and, the rest is history! Bill Gates and Paul Allen could have not put the Microsoft giant together by themselves, at such a young age, without the help of others. And, that help came in the form of great ideas from his staff.

Get organized: Dis-organization in a person’s life can cause stress! I’ve seen some people who are so dis-organized, I don’t know how they survive! One of my sisters is like that. Her and her husband are always late for everything…they were even late for their own wedding. They fight all the time, probably because of the dis-organization in their lives!

Stop and smell the roses: Today (2006), we live in a hurry-up society! If we all had 48 hours in a day, there would still not be enough time. Since 1986, I stop and smell the roses, by jogging 15 miles a week, and get out by myself so I can think. No cell phone; no lap top; no head phones; no black berries; strawberries or blue berries, either. I don’t want anything to interfere with my quiet time…this is my time. And, I think my quiet time produces for me in the way of more ideas. Plus, it keeps my in shape, too. I think everyone should have a little quiet time for themselves.

Be observant; Have you ever noticed that some people are in their own little world, and never notice much of anything around them? Because I’ve been in the humor business most of my life, I’ve been asked if there is a difference between ordinary people and comedians. And, the answer is YES…there is a difference. Ever wonder where a comedian get his or her material? Observation of the things around him or her. Comedians are always looking for new material to keep their act fresh, and this requires paying attention to detail.

Small spiral notebook: My meat and potatoes. I carry a small notebook with me at all times, so I can write down ideas, before they get away. My memory is terrible, and sometimes I don’t remember where I live. I just need one word for an idea; or maybe a phrase I overheard in a conversation at work, etc.

Clipboard: One of my best companions for years. At home, I always keep a clip-board handy, so if an idea comes up in my mind I can catch it and elaborate on it. I keep one by my bedside, as I get many of my ideas while sleeping, and I wake up and jot the ideas down before I forget. If I go out and work or wash the car, I will place a clipboard on the front seat just in case. Ideas don’t make appointments…they just come in when they want.

Glance board: Probably the most important thing I do to get ideas, is something I call a “glance board.” I made it out of Masonite and it’s about 6 feet by 3 feet and it is similar to a bulletin board. I covered it with decorative contact paper and trimmed it with nice molding. I attached the glanced board to the wall in my work place, and I keep most of my ideas on the board. I work on about 8-10 ideas at a time, and this is a good way for me to keep my ideas in the forefront of my mind.

When I wake up in the morning, I go and glance at the board; once or twice during the day (if I’m home); before I go out; and before I go to bed I glance at the board. This way, my mind is always working on the ideas as they are kept in the forefront of mind. It only takes about a minute. I never bury my ideas in a folder or in a filing cabinet. Even if it’s just a single word, it goes up on the glance board.

The idea business is not easy! Ideas don’t grow on trees. You’ll get good ideas if you want to work for them. Everything in my world revolves around simplicity, and all the things I outlined in this piece are as simple as they can get. Why make things more complex than they already are? You get yourself all stressed out…and that leads to getting blocked…and you find yourself coming up empty when it comes to getting ideas. I hope these tips have helped you…Good luck!

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