One practice I’ve done now for 174 days in a row is called Flexing Your Idea Muscle. I got this idea from the book Become an Idea Machine by Claudia Azula Altucher. It goes something like this.
The idea that ideas are ‘a dime a dozen’ is broken. Ideas are the currency of our lives. Anytime you embark on something worth doing, having an idea about your next step is automatic. What Claudia proposes is that we can exercise and improve that ‘muscle’ that gives out ideas.
The book is largely comprised of writing prompts, ideas to have ideas for. I began to incorporate this into my morning routine, writing 10 ideas for one of her prompts, right before I get into journaling. After awhile, I used up all of her prompts and began to write my own. In fact, one of my idea generating practices is to generate ten more ideas to generate ideas for! Meta!
It’s helped me concentrate on certain tasks that need innovative thinking directly and it’s also helped me just practice thinking of all options.
One of the most memorable portions of the book is, and I’m paraphrasing, if you can’t think of 10, think of 20. If you can’t think of 20, think of 40. I’ve heard this same sentiment regarding meditation. If you don’t have time for 10 minutes, do 20. The logic is that when you say you can’t think of 10, it’s because you are judging each of your ideas before you write it down. When you need to write 20, you judge less and write more.
Yes you’ll get bad ideas on paper, but that’s okay. That’s part of the process. It’s necessary for good ideas to find their way out.
I’ve done this whether I feel like I have enough time to think about it or not and it’s been a part of my ‘don’t break the chain’ practice of the morning ritual (thanks Hal Elrod!).
Practicing what I preach, here are ten reasons you should read this book:
- It encourages immediate action. What other books do that?
- It is filled with wonderful prompts.
- It challenges you to think.
- It will affect how you approach new projects.
- It is optimistic – there are always more ideas to try.
- It is an easy read.
- It provides a space for thinking about thinking.
- You’ll learn about becoming an Atomic Idea Machine (peak performance)
- You’ll have an incredible spike in creativity
- You’ll be ready and have hope in any, seemingly hopeless, situation