How To Succeed With Bad Ideas

image - Flickr / Don
image – Flickr / Don

Claudia was exercising her idea muscle. 10 ideas a day.

She was sweating. It wasn’t fun. I wouldn’t let her up until she had 10 ideas.

“But I can only come up with five today!” She was in a state of panic.

I know the feeling. Five is easy. Anyone can come up with five ideas.

It’s important to exercise the idea muscle else it disappears. You stop being creative. You become a standardized test with all the black circles filled out all over your brain.

After six months of coming up with ten ideas a day you become an idea machine. Your life changes, your brain changes, everything you look at is the reflection of a potential idea.

It doesn’t solve all of your problems. You need to be healthy in other ways or you end up, as I have, lying in the middle of the street at 2am with cars swerving around you and random women trying to pull you to the sidewalk in the rain.

“If you can only do five, do 20,” I told her.

“You’re being too much of a perfectionist. Don’t try to have 10 brilliant ideas. Try to have 20 bad ideas. That’s just as good.”

When you have 20 bad ideas, that gives you more ideas for later idea sex – the combination of ideas. It’s all to get the engine greased so you can travel to places you’ve never even heard of before.

It’s in the combination of ideas that you plant the seeds for something extraordinary. For an idea nobody has ever had before. Your very own unique idea.

The child of two ordinary ideas can turn out to be Google (the combination of basic search with academic citation techniques) or scotch tape (the combination of adhesive paper with some weird glue-y substance).

Then she did 20 ideas. And 20 more. She had 40 bad ideas. They really sucked. Then she started combining them.

Then she gave a talk in Dallas Cowboys stadium the other day, her first public talk ever. Two hundred people there.

She killed it. I don’t want to sound like a cliche, but she had people laugh and she had people cry. Her first joke, “Argentina won the World Cup. Yay!” And everyone laughed.

Comedy is the art of removing skills. She removed all knowledge of recent events. Funny.

Then she told stories of suicide, dictatorship, torture, E.T., and illegal immigration.

She was so happy when it was over. She knew she had done good.

Then she took her 40 bad ideas and threw them in the garbage. I’m sure she’ll have 40 more bad ideas tomorrow. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

James Altucher is the author of the bestselling book Choose Yourself, editor at The Altucher Report and host of the popular podcast, The James Altucher Show, which takes you beyond business and entrepreneurship by exploring what it means to be human and achieve well-being in a world that is increasingly complicated.

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