How to instantly and painlessly get a dozen or more ideas


New perspectives yield creative insights, no matter what. It’s practically a magic equation for having new ideas: just change your perspective.

I read some time ago about a really elegant way to do it too.

It works almost instantly and is completely painless (you don’t have to stand on your head or try to walk while looking through binoculars).

It’s simple: whenever you encounter something – a table, a project at school or work, a friend, food – say something random out loud that it is not. That’s it.

For example: say you’re out and about at your favorite coffee shop. When you first get your coffee (or tea, or whatever) look at it and say, out loud, something random. Like: “shoe!”

Apart from the strange looks people might give you, something really surprising will happen.

Ideas will flood into your brain. Suddenly what was once a cup of coffee is now something completely different.

How could you take an empty coffee cup and recycle it into a shoe? Why hasn’t anyone tried that yet (or have they?) Could you heat shoes in the winter by having a small compartment in them to pour hot liquid (keeping your feet dry still, of course)? What about building a “sleeve” for shoes, like there are for coffee cups? Could coffee spilled onto a clean pair of white shoes make a shoe worthy of New York Fashion Week? Could you build (and maybe sell) a type of coffee carrier that weaves in and out of the cup like shoelaces on a shoe?

By saying a random word aloud any time you encounter something you’re forced to view it from a new perspective.

Try it, right now. Close your eyes and turn around once, then open your eyes and the first thing you see say something other than what it is out loud. Try it with a person, or a blank sheet of paper, you’re going to have ideas.

Photo by Suren Manvelyan.