Imagine if we lived in a world without ideas? There would be no imagination. No revelations. No transformation. Just a vacuum of sameness.
A single idea, no matter how small, holds an enormity of potential for change and progress.
Ideas occur when a connection is made between two different thoughts. A little pop of creative energy that ignites a new possibility. Having an “aha moment” reaffirms the active nature of our brains - our ability to make connections between some of the random thoughts collecting and swirling through our minds and form something new and interesting. Regardless of how short or long lived, the split moment of having an idea feels energising and empowering. If the originator really believes in its uniqueness and value, the birth of that brainchild can feel exhilarating.
The life cycle of an idea is very much dependant on how it’s perceived by the originator and by others. We’re all guilty of judging ideas as “good” or “bad”. But is an idea ever really bad? Sure it may seem far-fetched, it may have been done before, it may be selfish or unrealistic or misguided but is it ever really unworthy or regrettable? In its raw state, the value and potential of an idea is difficult to measure. How it will manifest itself is hard to predict – it all depends on how widely it’s shared, the energy and momentum behind it, who hears it and how it’s received. There are so many variables that can shape, mould and change the journey of an idea.
I see each idea as a trigger. A stepping stone. A spark of creative thinking that can grow, merge, adapt or be rejected for something better. A collection of ideas, no matter how small or apparently meaningless can contribute to a new and bigger idea or even spawn a multitude of other ideas. Even if they’re never acted upon, they still fire our imagination and raise our capacity for connected thinking. Having ideas of our own enables us to assimilate and build on the imagination of others more easily. Many of the great inventions of our time have piggybacked on the shoulders of others. The initial ideas may not have been executed properly or successfully but took everyone a step closer to something better.
We often mistakenly judge the value of an idea based on whether it’s easy or hard to implement, whether it’s relatable, understandable, beneficial or impactful enough.
For example, an idea might manifest itself as an outfit you choose to wear to a fancy dress party or it might be a solution to a national issue that requires systemic behavioural change. In terms of impact, we might value the latter as a “better idea”. However, the idea for the fancy dress party could be considered “clever, brilliant and inspiring” by the party guests. The “nobler” idea for national change may not actually bring the desired results. Regardless of the ambition or scale of an idea, they reinforce our ability as humans to connect with ourselves and with the world around us. It’s an innate ability we all share and need to nurture more.
The cross-pollination of knowledge has been encouraged and facilitated by the worldwide growth of co-working spaces specifically designed to nurture collaborative ideation. The greater the mind’s exposure to experiences and different sources of knowledge, the more opportunity for interesting connections to form and the greater the propensity of ideas.
What if humankind collectively applied its creative energy to collaboratively ideate for the greater good rather than personal gain? Imagine the possibilities. What can we do as a race to reverse the damage that’s been done to our planet and our way of living over the last 100 years?