The best ideas are out there

I recently read the book ‘Steal like an Artist’ by Austin Kleon, and applied some of its lessons in my life. It helped like, a lot. And then, just because, I made this formula to remind myself about how important it is to get ideas from outside.

Most of the time, maybe due to high opinion of ourselves, we try to maximize personal energy and effort. While this is of course important, and essential, it is quite limited. You can devote only so much time, energy, or talent. And it remains mostly constant.

Focus on ideas

However, ideas from outside act as a multiplier. So, no matter what your personal constraints, getting the best ideas from out there will improve your output.

While this sounds simple, let me make it more convincing by suggesting an exercise. Think of a daily object you use and draw it out in your notebook from your memory. You could use anything, your soap, a shirt, a shoe. Maybe choose a shoe. Now draw it from memory.

Once you are done, now find that shoe, and try to draw it as accurately as you can. Just see it, draw it, see it and draw it. Take some time and don’t worry if it seems to be slightly hard.

Now compare the drawings. One has the ideas and representations from your memory and other is directly from the external world. Which looks better? Which would you like to show to others?


Screen Shot 2017-10-16 at 10.52.24 AM
One of these is captured from memory, other from reality

Key point – the real world is dripping with information which we regularly fail to capture.

The better your multiplier, the better your final output. This can be linked to lifelong reading, a habit common to successful creators. They don’t necessarily have the most time or energy or intelligence, but they have the luck (and wisdom) to learn more from the outside world, to have a rich idea vocabulary, hence they can deliver better, almost superhuman outcomes.

This is not to say that personal energy should not be maximized through good diet or exercise. It should, it is a part of the equation. But I believe this variable is normally distributed, you can’t go much higher than the rest of humanity.  It has limits. However, ideas and learning are infinite. These grow exponentially. This might also explain why the distribution of wealth (versus, say, height) is exponential. These people are constant learners.

Update: This is another article which relates to the ideas here.

3 thoughts on “The best ideas are out there

  1. Pingback: Idea mining: listen to your customers – Curated Intelligence

  2. Pingback: Do you even meditate bro? – Curated Intelligence

  3. Pingback: The best ideas are not yours – Curated Intelligence

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