This article first appeared on my blog.
You know those people who tell you that good ideas and solutions to problems just occur to you while taking a shower? I always thought that was total bullshit. Like if those drops of water all contain some small piece of a puzzle and making contact with enough of those drops will magically solve that puzzle for you. Total nonsense, right? Because innovative ideas will only rise to the surface after long, deep and intense thoughts or during endless discussions. Or is that also just not true? Well, I think this one idea that will make you immortal (yeah, let's just exaggerate a bit) uses a bit of both strategies.
Such an idea "happened" to me recently while hiking through a forest during my summer holiday. No drops of water involved there, but that's just a matter of speaking anyway. And like I said, it didn't just "happen" to me (unfortunately there's no magic for us Muggles yet), but it didn't require days or weeks of discussing and planning either. For me, the highest chance of coming up with new ideas is to be somewhere else (a place that's not your home, your work or any other spot you often visit) and think of something familiar (a product or service you already use and like). It's just the combination that seems to work. The idea that is the result of those two things might feel like a duplicate of something that already exists, but continuing on the thought for a while will definitely make it more and more unique.
So, does this mean you have to be walking, running or cycling in this unfamiliar place to get your idea? Does this mean you need to listen to music? And what kind of product or service do you need to think about? Well, I don't have the answer, and I think no-one else will ever have the answer. The "somewhere else" and the "something familiar" is very personal, and the only way to figure out what works for you is to try out various combinations. Does walking in a forest while listening to music give you the best ideas? Great, then you've found the right circumstances for yourself. Does cycling through the mountains and being completely out of breath when you reach the top provide you with that one best-selling new product? Awesome! But there are no standard recipes here, I'm afraid. If only…
At this moment you might be wondering what it is, this great idea that God was so willing to give me (ahum). Well, I guess I'm not going to tell you that (yet). For now you'll have to do with the strategy I used to get to it, but the idea itself will remain a surprise. But rest assured, maybe it develops into something so fabulous people will make a movie about it someday. Until that time, just be patient and bear with.