Thomas Edison was an idea generator but what set him apart was he was also an activator.
This skill led him to become a superstar inventor and by the end of his life he had been granted 1,093 patents.
Edison had a unique method for generating ideas.
He would take short naps throughout the day, holding a small ball in his hand. As he drifted off to sleep, he would release the ball, and the sound of it hitting the floor would wake him up. He found that this method helped him to have more creative ideas and insights.
According to a study published in 2018, there is some truth to Edison’s ball-dropping idea-generating tactic as creativity seems to be heightened in a semi-lucid sleep state.
Edison is also famous for the phrase. “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work”. He obviously didn’t believe in the perfect idea.
That attitude led to him to the following inventions:
- Electric pen
- Motion picture camera
- Alkaline storage battery.
That’s a lot of ideas that were acted on, becoming inventions that changed the world.
Edison was also famous for the quote:
“Genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration”
Edison perfected the art of the start.
The start is where we go from an idea to action. And Thomas Edison realized that an idea is one thing and perspiration is a persistent daily action.
The process is the alchemy that comes out of the movement. The system is the evolution. The process is a daily practice. You step up and act.
But how do you generate ideas?
Inspiration sources for generating ideas
Inspiration for ideas can come from a variety of sources and can manifest in different ways. Some sources of inspiration include:
Most mornings I head out for a walk into a forest or to the beach. Being in nature, such as taking a walk in the park or going for a hike, can help to clear your mind and provide inspiration. I always have my iPhone with me to capture the thoughts and ideas that often arise.
One of my life lessons is inside the phrase “you don’t learn from comfort but pain”. Personal experiences, such as overcoming a challenge or achieving a goal, can provide inspiration and motivation.
Art and culture
One of my habits when visiting a new city is to seek out a contemporary art gallery. It always challenges my perceptions and thinking. Exposure to art and culture, such as visiting a museum or listening to music, can provide inspiration and stimulate creativity.
Interacting with others, such as having a conversation with a friend or a lively discussion around a dinner table can provide inspiration and new perspectives. Sometimes my routine includes watching a TED talk at lunchtime when I step away from my creative space.
Books and articles
Reading books and articles, particularly in your field of interest, can provide inspiration and new ideas.
Dreams can be a source of inspiration, and many people have reported that their best ideas come to them in their dreams.
Silence and stillness gives our manic mind a space for ideas to sneak into our consciousness. Ideas that are often buried in noise. Mindfulness practices such as meditation, yoga, and journaling can help to quiet the mind and allow inspiration to surface.
Wrapping it up
Creators need ideas and you need action for anything to happen. We are all creators
And wrangling an imperfect idea into a draft needs movement. So don’t stop at the idea. Don’t be afraid of the journey. Master the art of the start.