“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”
If you want to be the type of thought leader that generates an abundance of new ideas than it’s necessary that you set up simple systems in order to expose yourself to new, multidisciplinary sets of ideas regularly. You know this. So pull out your thinking jug and take 15:
- Sign up for wikipedia’s article of the day – includes a random article, 3 on this day in history factoids, word of the day, and daily quote.
- Sign up for a daily/weekly TED talk to your inbox.
- Once a month, schedule going to your local bookstore or magazine stand and buy 3 random magazines of no relevance to your current interests or professional industry. An even better way to ensure you get random mags is to have a friend/colleague/partner go and choose issues on your behalf [I guarantee you will own a copy of Cat Fancy within a two months.]
- The most obvious one – sign up for something new – In the past 12 months, I’ve taken Zook and Salsa dance classes, tried cross-stitching, made homemade hot sauce, tried canning, went dog-sledding and snow shoeing. I forced myself out of my comfort zone and not only got to enjoy new experiences [or discover what I’m not into] but those experiences lead to a bunch of horizontal insights. Try everything. Twice.
- Force yourself to wake up earlier. Try waking up at 430-5 for a two weeks. Week 1 will probably suck if you currently enjoy sleeping in, but after that you’ll have PLENTY of time for idea generation, pondering over your musings while the world is asleep and you aren’t rushing to get ready for work. [or switch up other routines – your route to work, eat only with your left hand for a week, etc.]
- Meditate. Find stillness in coming back to your breath or practice sitting in silence with a singular thought for 15 minutes. Start doing this in tandem with your new found love of waking up at 430! Try this for beginners
- Follow a “thought leader” blog like Seth Godin
- Follow a daily design blog – My most recent discovery is swiss-miss
- Follow a futurist blog – Sign up for Singularity University Hub’s weekly email
- Take a 30 day challenge. I’ve done quite a few like only cold showers, running a daily 5K, vegetarian, etc. Here’s a list to give you some ideas
- Get a pen a paper. Take out your credit card. Visit a competitor’s website. Take notes of everything they are doing better than you throughout the user experience in making a donation. Go through this exercise slowly and meticulously. Also, look to your channel’s for-profit vertical markets – for example look to subscription boxes to find ideas for your monthly giving program.
- Go through the 36 questions that lead to love with your partner, close friend, or even alone.
- Ask yourself Tim Ferris’ 17 Questions That Changed My Life”
- Join a content aggregator site like Reddit. The pro-tip is to actually sign up/in, and make sure to subscribe to subreddits that interest you, not the “all” page default. [and get RES].
- Set yourself up with an idea board [old school – with cue cards]. Now read James Altucher’s “How To Become An Idea Machine“
- [bonus if all else fails]