I get a rush from thinking…literally. I actually feel my insides shift into a different gear when I go into deep thought…strategizing, visualizing, trying to solve world hunger. In fact, I am often accused of never turning my brain off. I’m sure some would like for me to give it a rest every now and then…especially on vacation. I just can’t. It gives me too big of a rush.
Now, let me be clear. I am not talking about the kind of thinking that just fills your head with mindless thoughts. I prefer thinking with a purpose. My favorite mental challenges come when I am struggling to invent an idea, solve a problem, design something new, etc.
I wish I could say that I use a tried-and-true, step-by-step process to think, but I’m not sure it works like that. And, what’s in my head certainly doesn’t fall into a nice/neat flowchart. Sometimes my ideas are formed very quickly and with little thought (within five seconds according to some sources). But, often they require a great deal of personal deliberation and collaboration with others.
I do have some guidelines that I personally use to help me think, and they may be worth a look…
Be on the lookout for inspiration—I ideate all of the time and I constantly keep my eyes wide open for ideas in the world around me. Often, my best thinking is inspired from other sources; just applied differently. Magazines, TV, day-to-day conversations, searching the Internet … theories can be linked, concepts can be repurposed, patterns can be reconfigured; there is inspiration everywhere.
Ask WHY?—My mom will tell you, I questioned everything as a child and it still holds true today. Why does it need solved, what would happen if we did nothing, why does anybody care, why does it work that way; why, why, why??? Questioning really helps me break down the barriers to creative thought.
Go for quantity versus quality—Yes, you read that right. Crazy ideas drive innovation. For me, it’s about free thinking with no boundaries. The more thoughts the better! Listing, drawing, and the occasional interpretive dance can really spur a long list of off-the-wall thoughts. There is plenty of time later to destroy those ideas that are too “out there.”
Don’t think too hard—Let your mind go every now and then. Filter out all the BS/crap/clutter and find ways to disconnect to connect. Generally, when I am “turned off” I generate some of my best ideas…the shower seems to be my magical place (no comments). I have no distractions, am doing my most routine tasks, and can clear my head to allow some unique thoughts to emerge. The trick is to not forget them before I can rinse off, grab a towel, and get to my laptop…that brings me to my last guideline…
Write it down—I have the long-term memory of a gnat. I never know which ideas will be needed tomorrow, so I try to find a place to keep them all. I have notebooks, scraps of paper lying around, and have voice mails from myself. I’ve even found a way to capture my shower thoughts on the spot. I love this new all-weather notebook that I use to log my ideas in the shower. I know it was designed for outdoor use, but in my line of work, you have to use things in unexpected ways.
Thinking and the power of the brain are one of my life’s passions. In large part, that is why we developed our company—Think Up. We have a place that allows us to think, really think, each and every day.
Now if you will excuse me…I need to go dry off.