There are some people who do their most brilliant thinking, isolated, alone and in solitude. Some of the world's greatest thinkers have done their conceptualizing and envisioning in the privacy of their inner world. I am one of those people who do some of my best thinking alone (with authors) and lots of quiet time for reflection.
Most of us are not like that!
And, when it comes to leadership, some of the very best leaders are action oriented, people oriented and those leaders will have their best ideas, not in quiet solitude, but in the engagement of life that involve people. I am also fortunate to have a wonderful network of really smart people... creatives... dreamers... visionaries... and our conversations are stimulating.
So, here are a few guidelines for you to do a simple, but useful, exercise. Get a pen and paper (or your journal is even better). You are going to map out your "Idea Network." You are going to identify the conversation partners and learning catalysts that are in your life. These are the people who are a part of the seeding and incubating process of new ideas.
You have complete freedom to map this out in whatever way you like.
Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
1. Put yourself in the center of the page and you will build a map that will indicate the closeness and the priority of these "idea people" to you.
2. Start thinking of who the idea stimulating people are in your orbit. Don't think just of relationships in general, but think in terms of - who is around me that really stimulate me with ideas? Who are the people I like to talk to about ideas: both my own ideas and to find out their ideas?
3. Begin writing names and locating them on your map around you.
5. Think internally (those people who are a part of your organization) and externally (those peole who are outside your organizatin).
6. Begin to identify on your map, if there are other avenues or sources of idea inspiration. Things like being in nature, music, experiences, certain times when you are in the "muse zone."
7. Cluster people and items together if you can. Look to see if there are relationship there.
8. If you can, find ways to indicate the strength of the influence and the number of ideas.
9. Jot down a few Key Words to indicate particular breakthrough ideas or vital lessons that are associated with people and items on your Map.
10. Pay attention to what sociologists call "weak ties." These weak ties are definitely outside your internal organization and closer connections. They are most likely along the periphery and they are responsible for many of our best ideas. The reason for this is that within organizations, you will often find "ingrained, in-grown" thinking.
FINALLY . . .
11. As you are creating and refining your Idea Network Map, start to look for bigger picture meaning. Jump up to a 25,000 or even 50,000 foot altitude.
What do you see?
What is significant?
What is strong?
What is lacking?
Where needs added?
What is God saying to you?
And what are you going to do next . . . ?!?!