Monday, April 11, 2011

When Ideas Have Sex...

Catchy title, which is perhaps why I watched the TED Talk by author Matt Ridley.  Most of you know by
now that I love TED.  I love the concept of sharing ideas and concepts through a medium that spans the globe.  I find myself watching talks on subjects that I might not have otherwise have known.  I often find that a talk with no obvious link back to me or my work, seems to flick a switch somewhere in my brain that has me thinking in a totally new direction, developing a perspective for a client that resonates for them, but that I wouldn't have been able to explain to them previously.

It's this exchange of ideas that Matt Ridley discusses in his TED talk.  We all know the phenomenon of brainstorming in a group...everyone spring boarding off of each other's ideas until the final generation of ideas and solutions exceed what any one member would likely have developed on their own.  Certainly, the ideas are born faster.  Ridley shares... "the engine of human progress and prosperity has been, and is, ideas having sex with each other".

It's the interchange of ideas, the meeting and mating of ideas that often gives birth to fresh, innovative thinking.  In turn, it's this kind of thinking that raises the bar, that allows us to progress, develop and to prosper.  Certainly we have seen evidence of this over the course of the development of civilization. 

How might this be relevant to you and your personal growth?  Ahhh, and here we come to...

The Work:

It really comes down to your investment in yourself, time that you invest in exposing yourself to new ideas, thoughts, and ways of thinking.  Thanks to today's technological advances, exposing yourself to new concepts, theories and research is easier than ever.
  1. Consider the people that you surround yourself with.  Are they interested in learning new things?  Do they have diverse interests?  If so, catching up with them and what interesting new things they have been reading or discovering may be all it takes.
  2. Create a 'learning' group.  A client recently started their own lunchtime group of 'Intellectual Explorers'.  They meet for lunch once every two weeks.  Each has five minutes to share information on their latest discovery, the idea/concept that has peaked their interest the most, that has spurred their thinking in new ways.  He says that the idea of the group has taken off such that they have had to turn away new members, because they don't want to grow too large.  Instead, they have helped a second group form.
  3. Read.  This needn't be dusty old encyclopedias, but consider subscribing to various blogs.  Find out who some of the 'best' people are in a number of fields of interest and keep up with what they have to say.  Check out some of the web magazines.  I personally have a number of them delivered to my inbox weekly, allowing me to scroll through quickly.  Usually I find some interesting tidbit that seems to fit perfectly into a puzzle I'm currently working on!
  4. Video.  You know already that I love TED for being exposed to new ideas.  I don't know when I'll ever need to know that they train rats to sniff out bombs but... it was a REALLY fascinating talk.  I swear!
  5. Google alerts.  If you're looking to keep up with the latest news and developments on a specific subject, consider setting up a google alert and have google regularly search out the latest postings on the web for you, delivering that summary to you daily, weekly or monthly.  No need to search for information, you can have google do it for you and deliver it right to your in-basket!
It's not necessary to spend hours a day engaged in 'learning' research!  Instead, it's about exposure.  Set up systems, that work for you, that introduce you to new thoughts, theories, the latest thinking on a variety of subjects.  It's the exposure to these concepts that serves to fertilize existing thoughts, enabling new ideas to be born.

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