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How To Come Up With Big Ideas

Melvyn Tan
Melvyn Tan
2 min read

Do you struggle with having to constantly come up with new and original ideas for your work?

Do you look at the famous authors and bloggers and think to yourself, how is it that they are able to come up with all these big and wonderful ideas all the time?

How did they find the time, energy, and resources? Do they have some abilities that you and I don’t? Do they have access to network that we don’t?

Upon reflection, you maybe forgiven to think that only geniuses or the chosen few have the monopoly of big ideas. And as for us, the regular folks, we are just doomed to small or unimportant ideas.

Regular people with big ideas

The good news is that is not true. You do not have to be a genius to come up with big ideas.

According to Dorie Clark, here’s where big ideas come from:

[T]hey come from regular people who are willing to ask the right questions and stay open to new ways of looking at the world.

Why familiarity breeds contempt

By being all too familiar with the surroundings, it is all too easy to not notice what’s happening around you.

You could also come to accept things as they are instead of challenging them.

Do you look but not see? Do you hear but not listen?

Let’s take the quote above and break it down into action steps that you can implement.

    Step 1: Observe

    Look around you. Observe to see what’s working and what isn’t.

    Look at the people around you. What are they doing?

    But don’t observe passively. Don’t stop there.

    Step 2: Ask why?

    Too often, we become too familiar with our surroundings we don’t notice. Sometimes, we even accept the circumstances we are facing and don’t question. And the scariest of it, to not challenge our assumptions at all.

    Here’s where you need to ask the question, why.

    Step 3: What if?

    The mistakes most people make is to stop at Step 2. We may ask the question why but shrug our shoulders and say, “oh, there’s nothing I can do about it”.

    That’s where you need to dream. You need to ask the question: what if? What if we can…

    This is really pushing the boundaries and dreaming up with possibilities. There will be some ideas that are too crazy to try and there will be some that you’d be too crazy not to try.

    Step 4: How?

    By collecting all the ideas, you need to now ask the “how” question. How can you take these ideas from concept to reality?

    What are the resources, people, and skills you’d need to in order to implement these ideas?

Start small but start now

On a final note, let’s clarify what “big” means. It doesn’t mean ground-breaking, patent-pending, billion-dollar idea.

Big ideas can be simple but non-obvious. Big ideas are impactful and make life better for those impacted.

Big ideas can come to you and me; not just the geniuses and chosen few.

Big ideas can be yours if you practice the four-steps outlined above. Question is, will you start today?

Melvyn Tan

Despite living the good life at midlife, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. My aim here is to reinvent midlife, learn new skills, and understand how the world works post-COVID.