where ideas come from

I love ideas. And I think that having ideas (good and bad ones) is something that can truly set you apart in business, relationships, hobbies and just about every facet of your life. Running a website about people with ideas, working in advertising and owning 14 more domain names than the folks at GoDaddy; I have been able to learn a thing or two about ideas, and where they come from. Before I got any further, let me now just tell you that I think anyone can have good ideas. You don't have to be a creative person to have a good idea. The advertising industry (fortunately not my employer) is notorious for believing that if you lock two people into a room, one who can write and one who can draw, good ideas will emerge. I think that's bullshit. Maybe they'll come up with pretty print ads or funny TV commercials, but I don't see any advertising copywriters and art directors being the ones who build products and companies that truly change the world. Anyways, my point is that anyone can have a great idea. Most people have had amazing ideas, but only few move forward and actually execute. Even the greatest idea is no good if you don't bring it to life. Regardless, that's not what this post is about. I believe that there two things that together allow for the creation of good ideas. Time. And happiness. In order to have an idea, you need time to think. That time can happen anywhere and anytime. In the shower, in the car, during a conversation or maybe even in a conference room while looking at some funny dude with a pencil.  Personally, most of my ideas come while running or cycling. I purposefully don't listen to music while exercising which forces me into deep thought. Time to think is the most important facet in the creation of a good idea. The second component is a bit less intuitive. And maybe it is not an absolute requirement but I happen to think it might be. I believe that in order to have a great idea, you need to be happy. If you aren't happy, then you likely will be distracted by things that bother you. Things that hurt you. Things that you struggle with. While there are many examples of great artists creating amazing pieces of work while being depressed about something, I believe such is more a form of expression rather than an idea. Anyways, on the flip side, I believe many people find great inspiration in the beginning of events like the beginning of a romantic relationship, the birth of a child or while experiencing really any moments filled with great energy and hope. So, the next time you're in need of a some inspiration, set aside some time to think and then make sure you have nothing major on your mind that will negatively occupy your mind.  Clear out what you can, and learn to ignore worries that really shouldn't bother you. Get in a positive state of mind, and then take some time to think. Look around. Whistle Pick your nose. Jot down random words on a notepad.  I promise you good ideas will come.

A personal addendum

I truly believe that most of my ideas have come while doing various forms of long distance sports. It's like a double whammy as the exercise helps your brain release endorphins, which are the ultimate happiness drug, and then the extended nature of the sport gives you plenty of time to think.