Home Lifestyles Advice March 2008 Brainstorm E-Bulletin

March 2008 Brainstorm E-Bulletin


Spring is almost in sight, as the days get longer. Time to do a spring clean – throw out those old ideas; make room for some new ones. Here are a few to get you started:
1: The Lesson of the Three Monkeys
There's a story about three monkeys sitting under a tree. One of them decides to climb the tree and get a banana. How many monkeys are left sitting under the tree?
Answer: Three. It takes more than a decision to change anything.
As someone who is addicted to having ideas ("Hey, I know! Maybe I could climb that tree and get a banana!"), I understand this story very well. Yes, the idea is important, but things change only when we turn it into action. Speaking of which:
Action: Keep a journal of all your ideas so that your mind is encouraged to stay fertile – I believe that if you ignore your ideas, they stop flowing. But also make a firm decision about which ones to act on and then stick with those until you've seen them through.
2: Harley Brown's Tip for Overcoming Procrastination
This tip comes from superb artist Harley Brown, writing in International Artist magazine – he's talking about procrastinating instead of painting, but you can apply it to anything:
"Write down your feelings on a page of paper: how you feel when you let your art slip by day after day. Then take charge of your art one day soon and gorge yourself in drawing and painting. Write down your thoughts at the end of that fine day: how exhilarated and fulfilled you feel. And then compare both your essays. This will bring you face to face with where you should be directed. There is something to writing down your feelings as opposed to letting them drift in your head. Your written words will show you the way. Keep them handy at all times."
Action: Try Harley's technique with whatever you've been procrastinating about. It works.
3: Guess What I Hate?
Yes, something I'm not very good at: networking. But here's a tip from Walter Anderson, author of The Confidence Course that I'm going to try the next time I end up at one of those things: Keep moving! "The longer you stay in one spot, the shyer you'll become," he warns. His advice is to find the nearest group with an odd number. He says, "Groups of two and four are less approachable."
Action: Avoid my previous strategy (hanging out near the bar or the food table) and try Anderson's advice.
4: A Great Confidence Booster for Presentations or Meetings
Reader's Digest quoted Barbara Wright, a London-based market research manager, as suggesting this tip for giving a presentation to a large group: "When I look out at a sea of unfamiliar faces I imagine my dad sitting in the back of the audience, willing me to do well. By imagining that a trusted friend is in the room with you – someone who's on your side – you can give your confidence a real boost."
I have done something similar – in one meeting a script I'd written was being torn apart in the most idiotic way by a network executive (who, I'm happy to say, was fired recently). I kept my cool by imagining that my best friend was in the room and sharing my amazement at the words coming out of this man's mouth.
Action: It's never too late to have an imaginary friend (or a real friend you imagine to be present). If presentations or meetings make you nervous, give this technique a try.
5: The Two Qs and How They're Connected
When you're trying to come up with Quality, the key is Quantity. It's interesting to see how many of the most successful people refuse to fall in love with their first ideas. As someone said, "good (enough) is the enemy of great." An example from the fashion world: Paul Budnitz, the president of Kidrobot (which sells kids' clothes, toys and collectibles). He told Inc. Magazine, "We were creating our spring clothing line over the past couple of weeks and I designed (or co-designed) about 85 percent of it. I made tons of designs for hoodies: the good, the bad, the horrible, the incredibly stupid. We had 200 to 250 designs, just for hoodies." During this idea generation phase, they gave no attention to evaluation – that came later.
Action: The next time you come up with a solution to a challenge, try continuing to brainstorm to come up with additional ideas. Don't judge them as they come up, but when you have at least another ten ideas – ideally, 25 – then stop and evaluate them. Note whether any of the ones that you came up with after the 'good enough' solution are actually better – there's a good chance at least one will be.
6: And a quote to consider:
"Success isn't permanent; failure isn't fatal." – Joel Stransky, South African rugby international.
Until next time,
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