Tag Archive: Ideas


When I moved into my cute little apartment on the beach ten months ago, the previous tenant left me two gifts: a sleek, modern glass desk and a whiteboard on the wall between my office/bedroom and the rest of the apartment. Of the two items, even on the first day, I was more excited by the whiteboard.

Whiteboards have always been magical for me. When I worked in the corporate world, I used whiteboards as a way to process ideas, brainstorm, find clarity and communicate ideas to others. Being highly visual, I like to draw diagrams, timelines, mind maps and pictures to articulate my thoughts, especially to others.

The great thing about having a whiteboard within my home environment is that I never worry about losing a thought, idea or epiphany. The second an idea pops in my head, my immediate response is to move quickly to the board and capture it. It may sit there for a couple of days after the ping, or it may be utilized immediately. I always know when it is time to clear the board when nothing on the board is calling me, it has all been digested into knowing.

Of particular value now are my nocturnal musings. For years, I have kept a notepad by my bed to capture dreams, ideas, to do tasks and troublesome thoughts. It has always been necessary to get them out of my head ASAP and let the thoughts simmer down, allowing me to fall back to sleep. I learned this process when I traveled every week and was very focused/worried about logistics which would keep me up all night. What time was my taxi, my flight, did I have my credit card, my tickets, was dog care arranged? Writing down my worries and tasks reassured me that I would take care of them in the morning.

Now, I use my whiteboard instead of a notepad, with even better results and a sense of creativity that I fully enjoy. I will awaken from a dream, stumble toward the bathroom, stop at the whiteboard, write a jumbled mess without opening my eyes and fall back to slumber in minutes. The next morning, what should be unreadable scribble triggers the memory of the entire dream, the idea that was created or the task that needs to be done. A few additional notes on the board and I am ready to take on my day.

An added bonus of the whiteboard, in combination with my iPhone, is documentation of each whiteboard before it is cleared. Before I wipe it clear, I take a picture of the board, ensuring nothing falls through the cracks. This provides me a lovely timeline of ideas and reminder of my thoughts and unfinished threads that deserve more focus.

While I am also a fanatical journal keeper, I find that this process keeps ideas front and center, relevant and available for the creative process to unfold.

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I have lots of ideas, all day long thoughts pop into my head, good ideas, bad ideas, ideas that are embarrassingly stupid, ideas that need to be left in the genie’s bottle and once in awhile, ideas that you know just need a little polish to become gems. The difference between all these ideas is that some are turned into action and others are left to float away into the ether.

The deciding factor? Filtering these ideas through my hard earned wisdom and the wisdom of my network. Exploring which of these multitudes of ideas will work and which will take me off target. Which ideas will take way too long to implement and which ones are Eureka! moments, gifts from the heavens? There are no guarantees, but self-trust, personal awareness and very candid friends go a long way in this filtering process.

I’ve been thinking alot about ideas and inventions because I just left a job where they are very concerned about the creation of ideas, claiming those ideas and protecting those ideas from others. The extreme opposite of open source or the very open principles of social media. In today’s world of Wiki and interconnectedness; pretty much a lost cause, but I digress.

When you work for someone else, in an ideal world, they have hired you for both your brilliant ideas and the accumulated wisdom to filter through those ideas. And for as long as that works well, you feel energized and excited to see your ideas come to fruition and deliver results. Clearly you are trading your ideas for resources that you do not have yourself, or you would do it yourself; maybe those resources are time, skills, money, energy or focus. You are trading your ideas for compensation instead.

The difficulty lies when your wisdom is no longer valued. While your ideas might still be harvested, your insight isn’t applied. You know that is the time to move on.

But ownership of those ideas? I would argue that once wisdom has left the building, ideas left behind have a very limited shelf-life. And as goes the wisdom, so goes the new ideas, which may look similar to those old gems, but are being created in the next moment, as with new experiences and insights come new inventions.

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