Tip #4: More Ideas Create Better Ideas

EW_CJ_dollheadThe difference between Einstein and the rest of us is this: when looking for a needle in a haystack most of us would stop when we find one. Einstein would continue to tear the haystack apart until he found every possible needle. Thomas Edison held 1,093 patents. Both of these creative geniuses knew that the best way to arrive at the one great idea was to have lots of ideas–many of them perhaps mediocre. I remember being blown away by a series of paintings at MOMA several years ago, not by their obvious beauty but from their title and explanation.  The series was entitled the ‘No’ paintings. The explanation was that with each piece, once the artist got to a place where he thought he was done, he would say ‘No’, and keep pushing to make it somehow better. I absorbed this message in a very powerful way; it changed the way I approached my work from then on.

The first idea we have is seldom the best idea, because it’s reproductive (one we, or someone else has already had) and not necessarily the best solution to whatever problem we’re dealing with, whether personal or professional.  It helps to have a spirit of discovery, a willingness to look at things in new ways, and let go of the need for perfection. Coming up with lots of ideas isn’t always easy, but the likelihood of a more elegant solution, and noticeable change will be the result.







  • excellent again!!

  • Jeff Romano

    maybe we are talking about a powerful force known as evolution – the constant of moving forward both in mind and action

  • Anne Twomey

    Continued exploration always leads to better solutions. I always remember that my father, a civil and nuclear engineer taught me that there were an infinite number of solutions, but given time, budgets and agreements, one would be settled on. This so freed me up to explore till the clock stopped ticking. Milton Glaser was also a great influence on me as a teacher. He said ” When you present your first solutions and a dialog ensues, it is not rejection, the conversation has just begun.” With out that wisdom, I’m not sure I could have continued with a a career that needs to hold so many views and input. Certainly it takes and expanded vision and resilience to succeed in these creative careers. I’m not sure all educators are instilling this in the younger generation.

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