How often do you read? It is often said that the person you will be in 5 years depends on who you meet and the books you read. I agree with that and try everyday to read even if it is just a few pages. Sometimes, that reading is books, sometimes it is online articles and posts, but I try to learn something everyday.
Most of the books I read are from the public library so I take notes (if you want to know how I take notes, here is a post that explains how I read a book) My goal each week is to take one idea, one takeaway, from the books I read and apply that concept in my life and business. The number of concepts I gather from each book varies but there is always at least one. Some are just interesting quotes or passages but a few are actionable ideas.
Today I am going to discuss a takeaway idea from the book The Idea Hunter: How to Find the Best Ideas and Make them Happen by Andy Boynton and Bill Fisher. We all have ideas roaming around in our heads and it helps to have a few techniques to find the best ideas and get them working for you. This book can add a few more tools to your arsenal.
Takeaway #1 from The Idea Hunter
This takeaway idea is from page 80 and is actually a quote from the fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes,
“I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out….It is of highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones”
The mind is like an empty attic and you fill it as you choose. With that in mind, imagine your ideas being stored away in that attic. You head up the stairs and open the door. What do you find? Is the attic neat or cluttered? Is it organized in a way so you can find things easily (furniture on the right, clothes on the left, Christmas decorations in the middle, etc)? Can you even get into the attic to look around for your idea?
This takeaway emphasized to me the importance of focus. It is rare that a person can be good at many different things. When you are learning something new, it is quicker and more efficient to link the new skill or concept with previous knowledge or frame of reference. To have great ideas, you must have a depth of knowledge in that subject. To have truly unique ideas, it not only helps to have a depth of knowledge in several subjects, but to have the mental organization to combine that knowledge in new ways.
Consider the bane of society, TV. You may not agree but consider how watching TV really helps you in life. Sure, it offers an escape from your life but considering that everyone has only 168 hours per week and, on average, Americans spend 34 hours of that watching TV. That’s 20% of your life (30% if you only count your waking hours and get 8 hours of sleep each day). Recalling what our friend Sherlock Holmes said, that would be 1/5 to almost 1/3 of your attic that is being cluttered with useless knowledge. Imagine how many great ideas you could create and work on with an extra 34 hours per week.
If you haven’t read it yet, The Idea Hunter: How to Find the Best Ideas and Make them Happen by Andy Boynton and Bill Fisher is a great book and I highly suggest that you put it on your reading list. Remember, just one idea can change your life and who knows, this book may help you find it. This takeaway idea is just a small piece of the great ideas in the book. Go read it for yourself and let it change your life.
How can you control the knowledge you put in you head so that it will help you not only find your next great idea but see that idea come to life?