Where Do Ideas Flow From?

No. 47
Posted on 6/5/2017 by Mark Hutchinson
"For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate."
- Margaret Heffernan

"It is only through the opposition of ideas that we can learn to be self-critical, to work towards intellectual humility."
- Tariq Ramadan

Lightbulb under a cloche There is a bubbling and a swirling and then random connections form a web and then… POP - You have an idea!

The human mind is truly an amazing mental factory and it is always cranking out ideas. Some ideas that come to us are relatively mundane like “I left the milk out on the counter… and that’s going to be bad.” Or sometimes they can be really big ideas that change the world like “What if I could harness lightning?” Then other times they land somewhere in between like “People will definitely pay $2.50 for a cup of good coffee!”

Ideas let us test out a vision of the world which allows us to avoid costly mistakes and also to plan beyond our next meal.

However, we learn pretty quickly that our own ideas can be very precious to us and can even act like a raw nerve dangling out in front of the world, vulnerable and painful if stepped on. Have you ever noticed how kids fire off ideas like popcorn but adults tend to just smile and nod. Getting stepped on is no fun and we learn that lesson in a hurry.

The quotes today remind us of a very important aspect of ideas. If an idea is not shared it will struggle to grow into a robust and meaningful entity.

When we share ideas with others it is then that the idea really can develop. Confusion, disagreement, related concepts all help to define and refine an idea so that it can be communicated to others and also be meaningful to them. Yet this process often makes us feel uncomfortable, even fearful.

The key realization here is that: your idea is not the same as you.

Criticism of your idea, disagreement with it will help your idea evolve. Instead of diminishing you as a person, engaging in that idea development process with others actually makes you stronger. It is a little counter intuitive but there it is.

What do you think about that?

I’d like to improve my thinking and you can help me with that!

What is your big idea for the week?

~ Mark

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