Where Winners Find Their Ideas

Getting a good idea is one thing. Recognizing it is another. All good ideas come from the crucible of what you know already: your knowledge and experience. Scientists who have studied the formation of ideas say there are two sources:

♦ Ideas that appear spontaneously are thought to come from the right side of the brain, your so-called creative subconscious.

♦ Ideas that are built up logically are thought to come from the conscious, left side of the brain and are described as synthetic.

The words psychologists use don't matter. You just have to know that ideas come in two parts. If you know how you did it, it's synthetic. If you don't, it's creative. It's what Thomas Edison described as "perspiration and inspiration." Edison was strong on perspiration. His invention of the light bulb was completely synthetic. Edison labored 16 hours a day for years at his famous laboratories at Menlo Park. He tried every conceivable physical condition and chemical element until he arrived at a truly illuminating combination.

Note Edison tried over 6,000 combinations before he perfected the incandescent light bulb. He used to joke that he had to succeed, as he'd tried everything else that had failed.

In contrast, Archimedes, the ancient Greek mathematician and inventor, got a one-step solution. His idea for the Principle of Displacement came when he leaped into his bath. That idea is held to be creative.

Most marketable ideas are a combination of spontaneous thoughts that have been optimized by polishing. Gene Roddenberry did just this. His inspiration came from a 1961 movie called Master of the World, in which Vincent Price as "Robur" went around the Earth in a giant airship to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and civilizations. The perspiration was drawn from Roddenberry's experiences as a bomber pilot, policeman, and his consummate plot and script-writing ability. The result was Star Trek.

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