Stop Stopping the Ideas from Coming
Walking, pacing, staring at a blank page, tearing at your hair, and wishing you could be just about anywhere that isn’t this place … the place where you need an idea and your mind is a blank.
The adrenalin is pumping. Mental sweat is dripping. You hear the sound of your own breathing and the irritating tick, tick, ticking of a clock — though every timepiece you own is digital.
Your mind is working overtime to find irrelevant attractions and less than useful distractions keep interrupting any chance of a reasonable thought that appears. One unanswered question — How will I ever get this done? — is from every direction neutralizing any chance of a new thought.
It’s not that you’re out of ideas.
It’s that you need to stop stopping them.
The RAS — Our Brain’s Stimulus Management System
Ever noticed that the best ideas come when youâre least trying to have them? Great ideas show up when we’re falling asleep, taking a walk or a shower, unpacking boxes and boxes, or sitting outside watching people and clouds go by.
Times like those, ideas seem to be everywhere.
But when we need one, we can seem to see one anywhere.
The problem isn’t that we don’t have anything to stimulate ideas! The problem is that we have too many things! Really.
Everyone has plenty of what they need to get ideas growing. The key is knowing how to work mindfully rather than on adrenalin.
The stimuli that get ideas growing are continuously and constantly bombarding our brains, specifically our subconscious. They come at such a rate that, if our brains let them all in, we wouldnât be able to pay attention to anything — we’d be distracted by blinking, how it feels to be walking. the sound of our breathing, or the feedback of the chair where we’re sitting.
To keep our brains efficient, we come equipped â- at no extra charge â- with a stimulus management unit called the Reticular Activating System (RAS). The RAS is a valve-like screening device at the base of our brains that filters out most of the unwanted stimuli. Think of it as closed door gateway that allows only useful information into our conscious brains.
Unfortunately that same RAS gateway can close access to the great ideas that we’ve been reaching for. The more adrenalin we have flowing the more it’s likely to be closing.
The good news is that the RAS can be trained.
Train Your Brain to Generate Ideas When You Need Them!
Anyone can increase the number of useful ideas they have. The art is in training our minds to see the ideas and pull them in before our thoughts edit, deflect, or vaporize them.
The best way to stop stopping the ideas from coming is to teach yourself how to keep the RAS open. Here’s how to how to practice using the filter the way you want.
Still yourself — mentally and physically. Spend a few minutes a day in stillness. Practice stillness so that you get good at it. Use that still time to develop these three process models. These ways of thinking keep the filter focused on finding the opportunity in a problem or a new idea from an old one.
- Change points of vision. View the question from the inside out, vertically, laterally, at the detail level, and the aerial view.
- Change your value system. Imagine the suggestions that you might get from a designer, a composer, a writer, a mathematician, a coder, a dancer, a chef, and understanding friend. Then do it again from the view of an employee, a vendor, a partner, a stockholder, a CEO, and a competitor.
- Change your scope and sequence. Tinker with ideas and viewpoints to stretch them, bend them, reconstruct them into solutions that fit and work perfectly in specific situations. Make it bigger, smaller. Make last shorter and longer. Take out crucial steps and put them in a different order. Add something that doesn’t belong.
If you get in the practice of thinking during stillness, youâll find that when you need ideas in a hurry, you can stop, be still and get them.
None of your decisions will be reactions to a crisis.
Have you ever tried anything like this?
–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz on your business!!