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By Michael Angier




Web SuccessNet

Ideas Are Cheap—But Extremely Valuable

At the turn of the last century, there was serious discussion about disbanding the US Patent Office because many believed there were few inventions left to be patented. The common wisdom was that all the great inventions had already been taken. No doubt there are people today who feel the same way.

I disagree. I believe the world is entering a time of unprecedented innovation. We’re experiencing some of the greatest prosperity we’ve ever known. Productivity is at an all-time high. And when basic needs are met, it’s easier to be creative.

Innovation is not only for so-called “creative” minds. We’re all creative. Each of us has the ability to generate ideas to solve problems in our businesses and create stronger relationships.

Innovation is nothing more than taking information and reorganizing it in new ways.

It’s important to take some of our increased productivity and use some of the time saved to think and create. Ask questions. Dig deep. Think about what you want and what others might want. What problems need to be solved and how can we solve them?

Arnold Glasgow said, “Ideas not coupled with action never become bigger than the brain cells they occupied.”

Ideas are cheap. It’s implementation that creates the real value. Ideas by themselves are worthless. Plans are nothing . . . unless they are followed with action. An idea without a strategy, without action, is useless.

That said, it’s still paramount we keep track of the ideas we have. Write them down. Record them. And make them easy to access later. You never know when an idea may trigger another one that could be just the one to make you a million dollars—or save a million. An idea you have today may be impractical. Or perhaps you may be unable to do anything about it at the moment. No matter. Make sure you record it somewhere. If you make it easy to do, you’ll do more of it.

I use my Task List in Microsoft Outlook to keep track of ideas. I can categorize them and they’re easy to find. Index cards also work well. They fit handily in a shirt pocket or purse and are easy to sort and categorize. You can even use your journal or a separate document on your word processor. The easier it is to find and review them, the more valuable your ideas will be to you.

I also use a hand-held tape recorder in my car to record ideas as they occur to me. It’s not only handy, it’s safer—I don’t try to write stuff down as I’m driving. Later, I transcribe the ideas into my Outlook files.

If you’re truly looking for ideas and answers to problems, you’ll surely find them. Think of them as decks of cards lined up to infinity. Each card is an idea or solution. One might be a low card—another a face card. Occasionally, you find an ace. If you keep picking them up, you’ll get better at reading the cards. You’ll make it a habit and you’ll find some aces.

Pick the best, implement them and watch your life—and even the lives of those around you—work better.

Related Articles:

What Do You Mean You're Not Creative?

Lifelong Learning


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Last Updated 03/07/2006