By Michael Angier
Ideas Are Cheap – But Extremely Valuable
Around the year 1900, there was serious discussion about disbanding the US
Patent Office because many believed there were few inventions still 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,
and each of us has the ability to generate ideas to solve problems in our
businesses and improve our relationships.
Innovation is nothing more than taking information and reorganising it in
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? Remember that it's okay to borrow ideas as long as you
don't borrow them all from one place.
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 in some fashion. 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
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 Microsoft 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.
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