Ideas can come from any source at any time. The key is to be open to them and to have a system for writing them down so you do not forget them.

The Secret Fountainhead of Great Ideas

Walking down a street in downtown Los Angeles on my way to the gym in 1980, I met a street person who started talking to me. He asked about me and I told him I was studying architecture at USC. Launching into a virtual tirade, he professed vexation that architects did not consider innovative projects. Then he told me about a church on lower Market Street in San Francisco that had burned down and was trying to rebuild by developing a mixed-use project. His description was so detailed I decided to check it out. Two weeks later a fellow student and I had been hired by the church’s pastor to create a preliminary design.

Ben Zoma, a distinguish 2nd century student, said, “Who is a wise man? He who learns from every man.” A powerful business idea, a lead to a new client, or a new approach for improving our relationships are out there if we will restrain our egos, engage in conversations with people, and share a little about ourselves.

  • If your first inclination is to ignore someone, think a second time. Maybe the person has something valuable to say.
  • Just listen. Hear the person out uncritically.
  • Always keep a small notebook or stack of file cards and a pen with you, especially next to your bed.
  • When inspiration strikes, write it down IMMEDIATELY! If an idea escapes, you will probably never catch it again.

Being open to people who do not seem to have any importance or with whom we may disagree can be challenging, but often yields enormous rewards.

Question: What techniques do you use to overcome mental roadblocks?

© , Kevin S. Bemel, All Rights Reserved

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