We watch a magician go through an illusion in a matter of seconds, marvel at the outcome and wonder how he did it. When was the last time you looked at a sky scraper and thought the same thing? Maybe that is because we often see a building come together day after day. From the hole in the ground, to the foundation, to the steel, the floors, walls and everything else. Yet, how many of us can tell what makes a building straight, or how it even remains standing year after year?
The magician is, in many ways like the engineer who designs and assures the integrity of the building. The illusion is that he that hides the mechanics of what he is doing. The magician on the video is Jeff McBride and I have seen him practicing. I can attest to there being lots of mechanics. I know he practices with his hands as diligently as a concert violinist. He repeats his tricks over and over until they are near perfection. Maybe we’d feel the same wonder if one day we passed a hole and the next we saw a 20 story building.
I often wondered if there can be engineering involved in leading us to greater, more creative solutions to our challenges. That question was answered affirmatively when I discovered the Creative Problem Solving Institute (CPSI) and met co-founder Dr. Sid Parnes. He, his wife Bea, and several attendees have shown me over the last 20 years that there is a specific process to follow that will lead me to terrific solutions. He and his partner Alex Osborn also invented Brainstorming, one of the drivers of this process. Read all about it here. Or go to school for it here.
Today, when I teach creativity to others, I ask who is looking for a magic wand that will make them more creative. After hands go up, I hold up a pencil or pen and watch their surprised expressions. One of the best lessons Sid gave me was to always have a means available to write down all my ideas. It turns out the magic I learned from Sid is not even just writing down my ideas to develop into solutions, It’s that writing them down is an act of taking responsibility for developing my own solutions. The solution may lead me to read a book or gather other data but after having that realization I needed no more self-help books to just get me motivated. I, once and for all, realized that I am the greatest source of direction for my future.
I shared this just recently with my girlfriend and she took the time to write down her challenge of finding an art studio. After generating and sorting through ideas she set her work aside to pick it up this week. Yesterday she told me she had secured a room in a space with 2 others at a cost less than she expected. Does it always work that “magically”? No! However, your odds of this happening increase when you make writing down and working on your ideas a habit. Sid said the goal is to move from "not knowing" to some new "a-ha's" to motivate you to move forward. I dare say, had my girlfriend not written down her goal of getting a studio she would not have acted so decisively when the opportunity suddenly popped up.
To get you started, here are a couple simple steps you can take to point an idea toward a solution*.
1. After writing down your idea, phrase is as a question starting with “How Might I…” i.e. go from “use blog to attract clients” to “How might I attract more clients through a blog…
2. Write out at least 10 ideas to answer your question (get 2 friends to help and each come up with 10 = 30 new ideas!!!).
3. Pick one or combine a couple to try. If the idea you are trying is more complex than “just do it” then break it into a few simple steps and then do it.
4. Assess your level of success. If you did not meet your goal refine your idea and try again.
*This is just part of the Creative Problem Solving process invented by Dr. Parnes and Alex Osborn.
Click here& I will send you a worksheet that will guide you through the whole process for even richer solutions.
What’s most important is that you move to the habit of taking action rather than just thinking about “that $1 million idea” for days on end. Fail fast, rapid prototyping, use whatever trendy term you want but get to it! Become your own self-help guru by habitually writing down ALL your ideas. Don’t judge. Let the world judge after you get it out there. By then you will be either refining your idea or on to your next success!