Where do ideas come from? A lot of people would say things like “the imagination” or “from contemplation”. While slightly accurate, these aren’t really answers. Instead of directly addressing the question, they skirt around the edges of the issue without taking it on. It’s sort of like when a little kid asks “Where do babies come from?” and you answer “from love”. While that answer is somewhat true, these kinds of dodgy responses don’t have a lot of meat on their bones idea-wise. So, going back to the original question, where DO ideas come from?
The answer is as simple as it is elegant. Ideas come from experiences. What you do, see, read, hear, taste and touch all form the raw materials out of which great, and not so great, ideas are born. What this means is that ideas are not born in a vacuum. No one came up with a great idea after spending all their time surrounded by the same four walls. Ideas are like seeds. Seeds need water and light and warmth to germinate, grow and bear fruit. Ideas also need water, in the form of experience, and light, in the form of events, and warmth, in the form of encounters, in order to germinate, grow and bear their own special fruit. In other words, if you want to come up with great, game changing ideas, you need to get out and experience life.
Now, by experiencing life, we don’t mean going to the store, taking the cat to the vet and filling the car up with gas. These types of everyday experiences do nothing to stimulate the creative places in your brain. When you perform routine tasks you are often on autopilot, going through the motions without being fully aware of what is going on. No, to give your brain the fertilizer it needs to produce great ideas you’re going to have to go after new experiences, stuff you’ve never done before.
You see, you come up with ideas by making connections between two or different pieces of information. If all you have to work with is information that you’ve possessed for years, then the connections between these old pieces of information will be ones you’ve made thousands of times in the past. However, when you add new information into the mix, information gleaned from new experiences, then fresh and unique connections between what you already knew and what you’ve just learned become possible. It is from these new connections that “A-ha!” moments are born.