December 19, 2023

THE SECRET TO SUCCESS IS A LOT OF BAD IDEAS  Plus: ways to start keeping a journal to practice generating more of them

A crumbled piece of paper with the word ideas written on it

In the book, Ideaflow, Jeremy Utley says that "every problem is an idea problem."

His solution for any problem is to generate more ideas - and the key to this is not to spend too much time judging the quality of those ideas. 

And definitely don't get caught in the trap of thinking that you should follow through with any or all of them.

Instead, Utley and other thought leaders want you to just generate lots of ideas. Over 150 for regular projects, over 2000 for things that could become a commercial success and upwards of 20,000 for medical breakthroughs.

From a lot of bad ideas, you can focus into something brilliant 

From a lot of bad ideas, you can focus in on something brilliant.

I witnessed a really great example of this in 2023.  My amazing friend and colleague, Tammi van Hollander was selected to deliver the first ever Tedx Talk on the Healing Power of Sandtray Therapy. (a must-watch!)

Tammi was teaching at the Mid-Atlantic Play Therapy conference in New Jersey in June of this year and there were a lot of skilled play therapists, art therapists, and sandtray therapists in the building. 

Tammi was asking everyone, "What do you think I should do for my talk?"  "What should I use for an opening?"  "What is really essential?"

And everyone (me included) gave her ideas.  "You could give out sand tray miniatures to everyone in the audience, you could show a video of your office, you could ask people to imagine a world, you could...., you could...., you could..."

You might say that she got a lot of bad ideas.  And probably a few really good ones!

I gave Tammi some bad ideas (none of which made it to the final cut, thankfully).  But the end product is as close to perfect as one could get, I think.  Now, that is partially because Tammi is a brilliant and talented therapist (that's why she was selected for this in the first place). 

Schedule time to think up a lot of bad ideas 

And also, I believe that Tammi's talk is so good because she gathered lots and lots of ideas - so many ideas that she was able to sift through and find the really good ones and turn them into something magical.

If you are trying to "think something up" and expect to get it right on the first try, you are bound to be disappointed, frustrated or desperate for a quick fix. 

But, if you want to do something amazing, allow time for  A LOT of ideas - good, bad, silly, ridiculous, unfunded, impossible ideas.  Aim for 100 or more. 

As Jeff Bezos says, "It takes 10 years to build an overnight success."

Imagine how many bad ideas that is.  You better get started.

One really good idea is to watch Tammi van Hollander's Tedx Talk

Want to learn more about sandtray therapy?  Tammi has a recorded course that covers all the basics and then some. It even includes a 100 page ebook!

Journaling Ideas

In his book, Ideaflow, Utley recommends a few practices that you use to practice generating new ideas.

One is to aim for 10 new ideas per day.  Anything goes. 

They don't have to be connected in any way. You might even start a journal that is just for ideas. Or create a notebook in your phone where you capture ideas as they come to you.

Or set a timer and try to come up as many ideas as possible about a subject.

How many different gifts could I get for my best friend?

How many ways could I organize my photos?

How many ways could we celebrate our next anniversary?

The topic doesn't actually matter.  The more mundane, the better really. Don't require yourself to take action. Every month, go back and review your idea list.

What keeps showing up over and over again? 

If Utley is correct that every problem is an idea problem, then the secret to success is always "MORE IDEAS"

About the Author

Jen Taylor, LCSW-C, RPT-S is an EMDR Approved Consultant and Certified Journal to the Self Instructor.  She is a therapist specializing in complex trauma, an international play therapy teacher and a published writer of multiple play therapy chapters.  Jen is the creator of the original 2017 Play Therapy Summit and many other innovative programs for mental health professionals.  Jen uses writing therapy, play therapy and expressive arts for her clients and for other mental health professionals so they can lead more joyful and meaningful lives.  Jen encourages people to try new things and create daily habits that allow for incremental progress towards previously unimaginable results.   Jen is a travel enthusiast, an avid reader, and a girl who lifts weights and runs for fun.  

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