A lot of great ideas happen when two or more other ideas collide to form something completely new.
Think of this like those old chemistry movies we used to watch in school. You had all of those atoms floating around and when two collided -- bam! A chemical reaction. Maybe something new was created. Maybe something exploded. Or maybe it all fizzled out and nothing happened.
Well, a similar reaction is going on inside your brain or muse. Except instead of atoms floating around they're pieces of information or other ideas. As they drift about, they occasionally bump into each other. When that happens, you may get a new, third idea. Or a big explosion. Or absolutely nothing at all.
Now, if you have lots of atoms, or information and ideas, you're going to get lots of reactions. Some will fail. Some will be so-so. And some will be hot -- so hot, so full of energy, they'll have power to change trajectory of a business. Or even a life.
The problem occurs when you don't have lots of random information and ideas. Fewer atoms mean fewer reactions. On top of that, you still have to weed through invariable duds. So odds of landing that one amazing idea drop considerably.
But not to worry -- there's good news. You can increase your odds of getting those great ideas. Better yet, it's fairly easy and painless. Below are three ways to get started.
1. Read, read and read some more. I know, I know, I can hear groans already. "But I already have too much to read. How can I fit more reading in?" Never fear, there are ways to do this. (Remember I did say this was painless.)
The key is to keep it wide and shallow. What does that mean? Well, read lots and lots of different things, but keep it general. Read about sheep farming, finances, yoga, cooking, traveling, dog training, etc. But keep it general -- don't read deeply. You can even skim if that's all you have time for.
Start by subscribing to a couple of different magazines and e-zines. General interest magazines are really good for this -- Walt Disney used to read Reader's Digest. Scatter them around house -- by bed, couch, even bathroom. I'd put a few in your car as well for those times when you have to wait for an appointment.
When you have a few moments, flip through them. Skim a few paragraphs. See what catches your eye.
You can also buy or rent audio books and CDs and listen while you exercise, drive, do dishes, etc.
Whatever you do, DON'T read publications related to your industry. That's for another time. This is brain-feeding time, not keeping up in your profession time.
2. Travel world. Traveling has so many fabulous benefits for your creative soul I could write an article just about that, but for now I'll limit my comments to brain food.