I have a confession: I'm an infovore. I crave information. I'm a borderline addict. The only thing that gets me high these days is expanding on what I think I know. I nerd out on books: Right now I'm reading five books at the same time. I'm studying the future of six different industries for my clients (artificial intelligence, marketing, technology, health, automotive, and clean energy). I'm also creating with what I learn: I do content marketing for my clients, I write questions for my podcast guests, and I write regularly for myself (if I don't write consistently I get depressed).
Why am I telling you this? My imagination is like Choose Your Own Adventure and most days I'm the only one who is on the ride. So, I'll let you in on all of my ideas secrets – and how ideas can lead to success.
1. Ideas liberate
Many people think that you need to keep ideas to yourself. The myth is that people will steal your ideas or that you'll run out of them. I generate more ideas when I put them out into the world. Tyler Cowen, the author of Create Your Own Economy, argues that “human brains are constantly absorbing bits of information that get smaller and are delivered faster as technology advances. The more information people receive, the more they crave.”
Cowen believes this is a liberating mechanism that gives us time to contemplate more ambitious, long-range pursuits. His concept works in theory but in practice? It's messy and non-linear. I have an idea over here and another one over there. They sometimes come together and have idea sex. Other times they want to do their own thing. How do I get them to procreate?
2. Say yes to less
If you're not mindful, your brain will shoot into another universe (with your ideas in them). If you're looking to talk to your alien friends, then you're doing it right! But if you're hoping to harmonize humanity here on Earth, then it's important to realize that you're becoming a zombie.
If you're reading this, you still have a chance! You're not a victim of circumstance – but only if you learn to say yes to less (don't say yes to the dress – no one needs a wedding).
As I wrote in this HuffPost article, I learned a lot from a minimalist mindset. While the article explores the concept of material objects, ideas are “things” too. And with fewer ideas, you can create more of what's meaningful.
I regularly try experiments in living with less. A year and a half ago, I hopped on a one-way flight to California with two suitcases and my pup. Here's what I looked like the day I did it:
I ended up missing only two items that I left on the East coast:
- An old couch (RIP).
- The diamond earrings that my grandmother gave me. I sold them to make up for the cost of moving and living in California (these are the same earrings that I wrote about in Chapter 23 of my book).
For the first few months after parting with the earrings, I touched my ears in a panic. The diamond studs grounded me. They made me feel protected. Whole. Without the sparkly light emanating from my ears, I felt mediocre (and mediocrity scares the crap out of me). But then I surrendered to the reality that stuff should not make me feel superior. I slowly became ok with letting things, people, and ideas go. Selling my diamond studs was an extreme way to part with possessions. But the experiment taught me that not only will I survive – I'll live to tell the story.
When you let go of the material possessions that make up your “identity” you are only left with yourself. Not having “things” is humbling. Scary. Disorienting. Identity is tied to mental and emotional structures. But after you sort through all of the stories that you tell yourself about living with less (and the emotions that come with the stories), you'll eventually feel liberated. Breathe. Meditate. Be in nature. Understand that your ego death is necessary to get to the next level – and not knowing the next level is all a part of the process.
3. Stick with a theme
The theme throughout my work is creativity and consciousness through the lens of humanity. Abstract, philosophical concepts strung together by the thread of innovation. How do I make it work? I don't always. Some days I'm a writer. Other days I'm a reader. But I strive to use what I'm learning to make my readers and clients better human beings.
As James Altucher writes, “Most of us are just running from something. Including me.”
You can run. But if you run with your ideas with you, you succeed at creating a new life and business.
How do ideas help to bridge your life into the next paradigm?