I often find that I tend to surround myself with people and situations that are constantly inspiring me in various different ways. Which got me thinking, “Where do ideas come from?” “Where does this so called inspiration derive from?” “How can I ensure that I continue to find this inspiration around me?”
And, which often occurs, the answer magically appeared right in front of me.
The other day I was in Chapters — a dangerous thing, because I love books, and love to read, which is a “love” that doesn’t help my pocket book — and I happened to find myself, like usual, in the philosophy / business / marketing section. I was busy doing my usual “thang”, i.e Scurrying through books and accidentally running into innocent passersby that only came to my attention and realization after hearing someone mumble a sly “urgggh watcchhhh where yourrr goinggggg gawddd” – My bad.
After much scurrying, I looked up, and a book POPPED out to me.
“Where Good Ideas Come From” – by Steven Johnson
I’m only 80 pages deep, but I thought I would share something that really made sense – to me, anyways.
“Recall the question we began with: What kind of environment creates good ideas? The simplest way to answer it is this: innovative environments are better at helping their inhabitants explore the adjacent possible, because they expose a wise and diverse sample of spare parts – mechanical or conceptual – and they encourage novel ways of recombining those parts. Environments that block or limit those new combinations – by punishing experimentation, by obscuring certain branches of possibility, by making the current state so satisfying that no one bothers to explore the edges – will, on average, generate and circulate fewer innovations than environments that encourage exploration.” (page 41)
Surely you have many questions. One for example is probably that your curious to understand what exactly the “adjacent possible” is. And to paraphrase, and simplify, the adjacent possible is when different doors open throughout human evolution which opens doors for new ideas to pop into someone’s, or many people’s, mind(s). When another door opens, a new possibility exists. So as we continue to push ourselves to learn and understand more and more, we create new possibilities at an increasing rate. Each new door that opens, is actually a spark in the neurons in one’s mind (we have over 100 trillion neurons in our brain) which connects thoughts, memories, and experiences and forms a solution to an answer, a new idea, and/or a new realization.
The book goes into detail about carbon molecules, neurons, amino acids, and the primordial soup of chemicals – but I won’t go into much detail about that, so that I can spare you from confusion, and also because I for one, am not an expert or highly educated in the matter – I just enjoy reading books.
Anyways, what I have taken from this so far, is that innovative environments are important when it comes to creating good ideas.
The advice I’d give – take it or leave it – is that I’d think twice before you attempt to restrict and confine someone from doing something/anything.
Unless of course, you’d rather conform, than create.