The Blog

Three Ways to Get a New Idea -- Fast!

Here it is, the no holds barred answer of my top three truths about creativity. In my 12 years consciously studying my own creativity and those around me (and the 26 years I studied it unconsciously) I have found the following to be universally true...
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

Some questions I hear a lot:

"How did you think of that?"

"How do you think that way?"

"How did you get to be so smart?"

I get asked these questions all of the time.

Kidding! I do not get asked the third questions -- ever -- but a gal can dream.

Truth is that I do get asked the first two questions a lot -- constantly actually.

So, here it is, the no holds barred answer in the form of my top three truths about creativity.

In my 12 years consciously studying my own creativity and those around me (and the 26 years I studied it unconsciously) I have found the following to be universally true:

1- Get Naked

2- Expose Yourself

3- Never Commit Too Soon

Sounds like some sexy synapse talk doesn't it? Well, it is. Turns me on at least. Creativity, that is.

#1 - Getting Naked: This is about dropping down our walls, notions, judgments, anticipated outcomes. Getting mentally naked is all about stripping off all that makes new ideas impossible. By its very definition, creativity is the phenomenon whereby something new and valuable is created.

Old thought processes and old idioms, old judgments and old opinions will not allow for new connections to be made in that mind of yours.

How you get naked is up to you. Some people wake up naked, so before you pull on your big kid pants stay in the moment and let your mind wander. For me it is all about mood. I have to set the mood to get in the mood to let my mind be free. For me this includes clean spaces, good music and occasionally a high-power coffee alone or a libation with friends.

Recently I was out with eight rocketship-status successful female entrepreneurs and we did a lot of talking and a little drinking. The room was right, the tunes were good and over a glass of wine (or more for some -- you know who you are) I wrote down 15 ideas for the women around the table into my phone. I saved them 'til the next day when I was able to appropriately enlist the insight I give in #3 above, at which point I sent the remaining four off to my friends. One wrote back "Stroke of genius." I responded "Might have been the whiskey"...but I know it wasn't, it was the mood and enlisting #2 and #3.

#2 - Exposing Yourself: This is all about getting experienced.

Every remotely decent idea I have ever had was just a salad of ideas and experiences blended together and out shot an idea.

People I talk to tend to think that experiences have to be big and shiny and unique. I think that is malarky. Let me tell you why in a backward way.

I like to think of great new ideas like a surprise great combination created on 'leftover night' around my kitchen table. All of the leftovers put out were the usual things -- green beans, some roasted red pepper hummus on its last leg, a bit of mashed potato, some kind of Asian noodle I always pronounce wrong when I order it (Jap-che????) a few chicken fingers and a jar of pickles that need to get eaten because the jar is huge and there are only three left in it and it is taking up too much space in the fridge.

My plate started with the mashed potato, on top I dropped a smack of hummus and smeared it around, put the green beans on top if that and heated it up. Everyone else helped themselves. By the time my food had been nuked I noticed all of the Asian noodles left over so I took them and put them on top of the hot stuff. It was so beyond delicious that I actually boasted to my family.

The key is to have a decent pool of experiences and knowledge to draw from. It does not all have to be exotic mixes. Just a new blend of your own vast collection of experiences to draw from.

I am thankful that I have a wide variety of mental input catalogued somewhere in this grey matter. From riding in trunks of cars (for fun and not advisable) to calling 911 (not fun but highly advisable when in doubt). From book to street smarts and from people met in person and on pages...I have been able to amass some pretty good stuff to draw from.

The secret sauce is continuing to amass new information and putting myself in new situations or old situations and trying to see them in new ways.

I will often be asked why I am doing one thing or another and often my answer will be 'why not'. This does not give me licence to go about my life willy-nilly but it does give me licence to intentionally say yes to things I think could enrich the pool of thought I can draw from when approaching the life I have ahead of me.

#3 - Never Commit Too Soon: I think that ideas or mental constructions known as creations through creativity are much like first loves...we often think the first is the best until we start to look at more and we find that the first was good and served a purpose, but upon inspection, might not be the best or the one to stick with.

This is when you add the Asian noodles.

You have a creation, it is good...but there is something else that could be added to make it great.

A note of caution here: This is the point where a lot of people (myself included on occasion) will want to just look elsewhere for the final answer. Like somehow by magic or mystery the cherry on top of the creation will fall in our laps.

The truth is, this is when our special sauce...our own unique self, our core desires and most treasured knowledge and experience is more than likely the cherry on top. This is also when it gets scary because this is a very vulnerable place, putting my own very personal spin on something and then showing the world.

Sitting down at the table with mashed potato Asian noodle pyramid.

If you have never seen it, I strongly encourage you to take 18 minutes out of your life over the next 24 hours and watch Brene Brown's TED talk on vulnerability. It changed my life in a small but very important way which has allowed me tremendous freedom.

Like anything exceptional, risk is involved, but I ask you: What is the risk to your life if nothing new happens, nothing new is created, no new friendships or ideas come along? Is that really living?

It can be scary, but I can tell you that some of the best moments, achievements and relationships in my life have come from those three things, naked-exposure-refinement.

In the spirit of the old becoming new and to many successful leftover nights ahead.


P.S. If you liked this post, or hated it...I want to know. Let's chat-email me at where the party continues. Who does not like an after party?


10 Habits Of Optimists