Where Good Ideas Come From?

Where Good Ideas Come From

Last night I sat down and had a chat with an entrepreneur who has changed the way Swedes think about rubbish. In fact, she has influenced their culture to the extent that the Japanese word “Bokashi” (it is a process that converts food waste and similar organic matter into fertile soil) was included in the Swedish dictionary in 2018 by the organization responsible for the Nobel prize.

Jenny Harlen started Bokashi.se in 2007 after she had been inspired by the Spanish gardens she experienced on her trek on the El Camino trail. She said, “The soil spoke to her.” When she got back to her small hut in the quiet backwoods of Sweden she started experimenting with her food waste to create rich soil for a garden that had poor dirt.

She also had a deeper purpose and that was to make the planet sustainable. She wanted to make a difference. And that’s where energy rises. It’s a place of connectedness that sometimes feels like you are just a channel to something bigger than yourself. You can’t force it but you can tap into it if you are willing to listen. And it will not shout but whisper.

Her idea was ready for the world due to an intersection of her experience, expertise, and a passionate purpose for a world that was waiting. She was curious, she was ready and she acted from a powerful place. The heart, an intuition that whispered on that ancient walk in Spain.

So where do ideas come from?

Two Americans were waiting in the rain on a cold wet Paris night. The frozen wind cut to the bone and no taxis were responding to phone calls and the only ones driving past were occupied or finishing up their shift. That underwhelming experience by Travis Kalanick and Garret Camp in 2008 was the formation of the idea that became Uber. The inspiration was born out of being conscious of what most of us have observed and felt but didn’t see as a global opportunity.

So ideas do emerge from a life of or challenge that is seeking a solution but you need to be looking for the problem and then developing a solution.

Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia had just arrived in San Francisco from New York in August 2008 and were unemployed and desperate for cash. They noticed that there was a big conference in town and all the hotels were fully booked. They quickly built a website “Air Bed and Breakfast.” And after buying some air beds they booked their first three guests. Airbnb was launched.


Survival instincts are a great source of ideas.

Ideas, they come from everywhere, but these three speak to me.

  • Observing a problem that needs a solution.
  • Raw survival instincts that need a visceral response to put food on the table.
  • Accidental inspiration in a quiet moment when you least expect it that intersects with experience, expertise and passionate purpose.

Acting on ideas is how we change the world and our lives.

What should you do about your ideas?

Ideas can be just fun thought bubbles or they can change your life. We all have them.

But some people are better at turning them from a thought into reality. Ideas can be turned into anything that the human creative spirit can imagine. Create art, go on an adventure or even start a business. Ideas are just mind energy manifesting as a thought. You can’t touch it and you can’t see it. Acting on a thought and moving it forward is where energy manifests into tangible reality.

The challenge is taking the first step as often fear and doubt get in the way. The magic happens when you convert the mumbling thought into meaningful momentum. Jenny Harlen had an idea that was an intersection of her expertise, passionate purpose, and experience that showed up in a quiet curious moment on the El Camino Trail. When she got home to her hut in the Swedish woods she took some simple actions.

When are you taking action on your big ideas that matter?

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