Ryan Leatherbury

Business. Tech. Life


How You Can Create 3000 New Ideas This Year

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I was surprised how much it bothered me. How did I forget?

When I woke up that morning, I realized that I broke the streak of writing down a daily list of at least 10 ideas.  I was at 59 consecutive days.

Backing up a bit, one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever had was James Altucher’s suggestion of coming up with at least 10 ideas each day.

It made a lot of sense to me to build up your idea muscle as a daily exercise so I started.

No doubt most ideas are going to be bad. But it’s a numbers thing.

DailyJournalIf you’re coming up with over 3000 ideas each year and maybe 1% are worth acting on that’s still 30 that could have an impact on your life.

But really it’s less about seeking the Big Idea. It’s more about forming the daily habit of thinking through the possibilities and opportunities that you miss during the hurries of life.

It’s about clarity. Reflection.

And it isn’t always just business ideas. Some days I jot down trends, predictions or how to improve at something. How to be a better father. How to help a friend. How to get more out of a day. Goals. Things I should do this year.

Sometimes negative lists work well. I remember the day I wrote about things I’d regret Not doing this year. Or things I’d regret not doing by Age 50.

I go back and look at that one a lot.

DailyIdeasSometimes I’d type them into on-line notes. Other days I’d draft an email to myself, or record a voice memo on my phone on my daily drive. Or I’d jot them down in a notebook. But over time they came in fits and spurts.

Maybe every day didn’t have to mean everyday. Just some days. Good enough.

So I made a rule to always use pen and journal, never a keyboard. Getting away from the screen worked for me. But I still didn’t always make the list.

Then I read this interesting piece about the Jerry Seinfeld strategy of “never breaking the chain.”

When asked how he’s managed to stay so successful for so long, he said it pretty much boiled down to 4 simple things:

Pin a calendar to the wall.
Write a joke that day.
Mark an X for that day on the calendar.
Don’t break the chain of X’s.

Seinfeld CalendarThere’s a huge psychological difference between having the intent to do something everyday and actually committing to it as a promise.

I actually didn’t use a calendar with big red X’s. I just drew a circle around the number of days in a row in my idea journal.

Somehow this simple mind trick has made the daily idea list like flossing. It has to be done before my head hits the pillow.

I haven’t broken the chain since.

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Ryan Leatherbury • February 22, 2015

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  1. Lindi Horton February 22, 2015 - 10:48 am Reply

    I love this. Today I’m reading John Wooden’s “My Personal Best”. As one of the winning-st coaches in the 20th century, John focused on instilling excellence in his players on and off the field. There’s so much to learn from this post and it correlates exactly to what John Wooden attributes to his own personal successes. He states that where many coaches thought he was foolish, he great to love seeing the little things done well. The small, tiny habits of daily action done with precision that were the key to success. Afterall how we play in one arena spills over into how we play in other areas. This is an awesome post showcasing how building an awareness supports creating a system that’s maintainable and productive. Awesomeness. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Ryan Leatherbury February 23, 2015 - 6:35 am Reply

    Thank you Lindi for the kind words. I really wanted to share this because I think we’re all a little conditioned to chase the one big thing, but really as you’re pointing out, our lives are mostly the result of small, daily habits. Those little things tend to add up to bigger results over time. One of my favorite visuals is that small angles over long distances result in very different starting and ending spots. I’m going to have to check out the John Wooden book you mentioned. I am still amazed at his run of success at UCLA.

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