where to get good ideas The Community Bookshelf outside the Kansas City Public Library. A good idea.

Some people have all the good ideas.

  • Miles Davis completely reinvented jazz. Like, twice.
  • Elon Musk is changing the way we think about cars. And space travel.
  • There’s (hopefully) a leader in your organization who’s full of clever ideas to make things better.

I don’t think these people have more good ideas than the rest of us.

They just have more ideas. A lot more. And, as Seth Godin points out in Linchpin, some of them are bound to be good.

When someone says to me ‘I don’t have any good ideas . . . I’m just not good at that,’ I ask them ‘Do you have any bad ideas?’ . . . One way to become creative is to discipline yourself to create bad ideas. The worse the better. Do it a lot and magically you’ll discover that some good ones slip through. — Seth Godin, Linchpin

We can have good ideas, too.

Suspend Your Judgment

If you’re like me (and I’m betting you are) you already have lots of ideas about lots of things: Inventions, businesses, websites, hobbies, new places to travel. You’re probably kicking around a half-dozen ideas right now.

You also have some self-doubt. “None of these ideas are any good,” you might say to yourself.

The fact is, we’re not very good judges of our ideas, especially not in the moment. We need to give ourselves some time and space, but we need to make sure we don’t forget our ideas in the meantime. The answer is simple, really.

Write Your Ideas Down

Writing our ideas down relieves us of the pressure to decide right now whether something is worth pursuing. Better to let it percolate, simmer, maybe mix with other ideas.

Twitter might not have made much sense in 2004. By 2006, it made a lot of sense.

The best tactic I’ve found for this is to keep a Future Projects list (a component of Getting Things Done). It’s simple: When you think of something you might want to do in the future, don’t decide whether it’s worth doing. Just make a note of it.

My Future Projects list contains some really dumb ideas. But it also gave birth to this blog, one of my top priorities right now. The idea for this blog sat on my Future Projects list for months until I decided that it was maybe a good idea after all.

Take 15 seconds right now to create a Future Projects list (unless you already have one). It can be a Word document, a Google Doc, or a note on your phone.

The next time you think of something you might want to do, think about, or have happen, add it to your Future Projects list. Even if the idea sounds crazy, the chance of it being a good idea is higher than you think.