How Do You Get Your Best Ideas?

After talking with my BNET editor yesterday, I’ve been mulling a series called “My Best Idea(s).” The concept would be to interview various folks about how they got the breakthrough ideas that have made a big difference in their lives. Creativity is always a murky matter. We have various notions of it (“it just popped into my head!”) but even when things come out of the blue, usually it’s because we’ve gathered a lot of information, pondered things for a while, then stepped away and put ourselves somewhere else. I don’t know why this works, but I do know that one of the easiest ways for me to have a breakthrough is to read a bunch about something, then go for a run. Talking with other smart people is a good idea, too, though you have to be careful. Some people can manage to turn any brainstorming session into a rehash of their own pet story lines.

So how have you gotten your best ideas? Was it a eureka moment or did things build up over time? Did you devote specific “strategic thinking time” to coming up with your breakthrough? Have you managed to replicate the methodology next time you needed to be creative?


5 thoughts on “How Do You Get Your Best Ideas?

  1. Definitely when I run outside, especially after I’ve spent a lot of time “forcing” myself to think of a practical solution/option/etc.
    Also, for some bizarre reason, when in the shower. I think it has something to do with the mind being relaxed that allows ideas to flow.

    1. @Nancy- that is not the case in my household, where the kids have not yet figured out that bathroom doors are supposed to stay shut when people are inside. We have to warn guests about locking the door!

  2. I’m a shower thinker too! I will have ideas floating around, or a rough draft sort of started. Then I take a shower and somehow the paragraphs come together. The key for me is to be able to sit down and type up the newly-congealed ideas soon after the shower. I thought I was the only one with this weird process….

    Long outside jogs or walks are more for mulling over bigger things, like worries about family, work, career direction, etc.

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