The term “brainstorming” is now very well known in American business life.I first learned it many years ago when I worked as a copywriter in an ad agency. Whenever we would get a new account our agency’s president would get us all together to “brainstorm” for creative ideas for the client.
The main rules of the brainstorming session are 1) there are no stupid ideas—the more unreasonable the better—and 2) everyone must play.I have sometimes facilitated brainstorming sessions with business managers. We go around the table and each person puts out an idea and the facilitator writes it on the flip pad. We go around and around until all the reasonable ideas are exhausted and the unreasonable ideas start to flow. It is usually among the unreasonable ideas that something great is discovered. Brain-storming works so well because the usual restraints against stupidity are lifted. It’s okay to be unreasonable and far out.
What most people in business don’t realize is that this powerful technique can be used by an individual, alone with himself or herself. I first discovered this while driving in my car a number of years ago listening to a motivational tape by Earl Nightingale. He talked about a system he had learned that worked wonders.
On the top of a piece of paper you put a problem you want solved or a goal you want reached. You then put numbers 1 through 20 on the paper and begin your brain-storming session. The rules are the same as with a group session. You have to list 20 ideas, and they don’t have to be well thought out or even reasonable. Give yourself permission to flow. Your only objective is to have 20 ideas scrawled down within a certain short amount of time.
If you do this for a week, you will end up with 100 ideas! Are all of them usable? Of course not, but who cares? When you began the process you probably didn’t have any usable ideas.
I have used this system myself over and over with really great results. It works so well because it relaxes the normal tensions against creative, outrageous thinking. It invites the right side of your brain to play along.
Recently a friend called for some advice about his career. He was in show business and had developed his act to the point where he was one of the top performers in the nation. His problem was marketing and self-promotion. That part of his career was lagging behind his talent.“What if I told you that there is someone who can give you 100 specific marketing ideas tailored to your precise career and audience?” I asked him. He was very interested.
“You, yourself are that person,” I said.I then told him about the list-of-20 self-storming technique I had personally been using for a number of years. He eagerly jotted down the rules of the game and got busy playing.
Two weeks later he called me very excited about the results. “I’ve got some really great marketing ideas right now, more than I’ve ever had in the past,” he said. “Thanks.”
Self-mentoring is the best mentoring you can get because your mentor knows you so well. And although it’s often beneficial to get specific outside personal coaching, the best coaching teaches us to look within.A great mentor once said, “The kingdom of heaven is within you.”