I landed on JFK airport on January 5th, 2015, and thunderstruck realized that my luggage is missing. That may not sound like a big deal to you, but I missed an important piece of information. I moved to the US on January 5th, 2015. The lost luggage was my only possessing in a new country where I did’t know anyone.
The office for luggage claims at JFK had 3 operators, they used computers with MS DOS, phones were ringing all the time and no one seemed to bother. They were dealing with real customers. (I saw 1476 unread voice messages on one of the phones.) They promised me they’ll do whatever they can to find my suitcase and asked me to give them a my phone number. “But I don’t have an American phone number. What can I do?” I asked. “Well, try to call us.” “But you are not answering the phones, right?” “Well… try.”
Next day I flew to my final destination, Pullman, WA. I had one mini suitcase with laptop, Kindle, one book, one T shirt, pajamas, 1 pair of socks and underwear. That was all I had. I have never felt so poor. (We are so attached to things, right?) My new roommate gave me his smelly blanket and I was so grateful. And so alone.
In the following days I called JFK via Skype without any success. I was washing my clothes in the sink every evening and wondering if there was a better way to find the lost luggage. And then I remembered James Altucher’s epic post: How to Be the Luckiest Guy On The Planet (because what happened to me was pure bad luck). Among other pillars of lucky life, he talks about the idea lists. That was exactly what I needed. I have started writing 10 ideas many times before, but I was never consistent. Desperate enough, I knew I needed something radical.
So I wrote the title: 10 alternative ways I can get my luggage back.
And I came up with 10 ideas.
Most of them were dumb. 3 were helpful.
One of them worked.
I got my luggage back after 11 days. I felt rich again. (And wrote THIS post.)
(To explain: the 3 helpful ideas were to get in touch with 3 friends of mine at different airports and in different airline companies. First friend told me where exactly the luggage got lost, second friend gave me the phone number of the third friend, who was able to connect me with someone who was able to find a person in JFK that would answer the phone. The key was to think a bit more and stop doing the repetitive thing that produced no results.)
Was this small miraculous event enough for me to establish my idea process consistency? No. I strayed. But got back on the track by the end of March. I was depressed, lonely and scared, so I needed a radical solution again. I have decided to get serious about the idea writing process, so I bought Claudia Azula Altucher’s book “Becoming an Idea Machine”. Followed every single step. And became the Idea Machine. Woooohooo! (If you want to know more about the structure of the process, read THIS post.)
Here is how I am different today, thanks to the process:
1. My mind is sharp, quick and prolific.
2. I am more curious about life, other people, books and new topics I knew little about. I know that the more I read and expand my mind, the more material I have to work with.
3. I met the iTribe during the process. That is the small (perfectly sized) Facebook group with the people on the same quest. Sharing ideas with the tribe members brought massive value into my life. We create, share and laugh together every day. That is precious.
4. I have started sharing more confidently. I know I can make a contribution with my ideas.
5. The process became something between my habit, ritual and mind workout.
6. I create a better content and I am not holding myself back, saving good ideas for some special occasion. I know there is always more where that came from.
7. I have practiced my focus and will power. I want to give up very often. I want to write 7 things and say: “OK, this is enough, this list is hard anyway.” And then I pull myself back to finish every single prompt. This practice in the morning makes me more consistent in everything I do.
8. I am happier because I feel that my creativity gets its daily workout.
9. My life has changed a lot and I know this is just a beginning.
10. I feel calm, confident, focused. All the success I get is the reflection of my inner improvement.
Some people asked me how exactly my life has changed. Here are some cool things that happened along the way:
1. First and foremost: my husband has joined me, he has found a job, we have moved to a new apartment, bought a car. This may not seem like anything special to you, but these are all huge changes for us. Our life quality is 200% better than it used to be 6 months ago.
2. I have started my mailing list and didn’t miss to write a blog post and send a weekly newsletter in 28 consecutive weeks.
3. I have started sharing on Medium and got overwhelmingly warm response on a couple of posts.
4. I have started answering questions on Quora with 10 ideas and I get most amazing praise there daily.
5. One of my Quora answers was published on Inc.com.
6. I have written mini ebook ‘100 Ways to Be Creative Today’ (in editing phase now) and you’ll get in soon for free.
7. I have got promoted at my work and my group has got 2 new research projects.
8. One girl has printed my list “10 things I wish I knew when I was 25” and put it above her desk. That is a wonderful praise.
9. I have balanced the entire creative process with my research, which is very demanding, more than full time job.
10. I have a number of awesome new projects, so stay tuned.
Enough about me. Do you want to become an Idea Machine? Here are a few of my tips for you.
1. It’s a lot of work, it is challenging, it requires leaving the comfort zone, but it is worth it.
2. You will gain from this process significantly more if you don’t just write the ideas but share them, too. That requires courage but it is the best part.
3. Make your ideas have sex. (Make an atmosphere. Candles, red wine, Marvin Gaye…) Idea sex results in miracles the world hasn’t yet seen.
4. Find an accountability partner. Or the tribe. It is easier, more fun and the motivation is skyrocketing. I made new friends, I am laughing and learning from them daily and I don’t want to miss a day of the idea listing.
5. We all have topics we are knowledgeable or passionate about and writing ideas on these will be easy. Don’t ever avoid the topic you don’t like. That’s where the real growth happens. Do some research, challenge your mind.
6. Don’t limit yourself to the exercises from the book, although they are well planned and pretty challenging. Write idea lists for your work, your blog, your life, your friends.
7. If you miss a day or more, continue as soon as you can. It happens and it’s not a big deal. Make it exception rather than rule. (You’ll see quickly how your brain gets slower and you won’t let that happen too often.)
8. If you are traveling, organize well so that you can write ideas without interruptions. At home I write in Evernote. When I go to trip, I usually write the ideas in a notebook. You don’t need anything fancy, you don’t need a special atmosphere, just find the way to do it. Also, if you forget you Kindle and don’t have an idea prompt, come up with one. The key is to keep the process continuous.
9. Many new coincidences will happen. Writing ideas and sharing them will bring you good vibes. Your life WILL change. Make your ultimate goal to sharpen your mind and connect with others. All the other things are good byproducts. Remember that this process is just the beginning.
10. Get your hands on this book! (Keep reading.) It is awesome, well organized and thought out. I know, people might say: “Hey, but I can write any ideas on my own.” Yes, but it is so much easier and more effective when you have an organized process that you follow daily. Besides, it challenges you to think about things you never thought about before.
I have decided to give away 10 Kindle copies of “Becoming an Idea Machine” books. (Even if you don’t have a Kindle reader, you can read it on your computer or phone.) I loved it, it has changed my life and I want the same for you. Do you want one? Answer the question in the comments below: “What are 10 reasons why you want to become an Idea Machine?” We will announce the winners on October 25th. Good luck and remember: Ideas are the currency of 21st century. ((Tweet this))
P. S. Share the news about this giveaway with your friends! Let’s create together! Write 10 ideas and get “Idea Machine book!” ((Tweet this!))
One of my favorite topics. Creativity. Described in 10 crucial words. With explanations. And nice quotes. That are tweetable. When you read it, you will know exactly what to do.
You already are endlessly creative. Here are the instructions how to start using your inherent skills. BLABLA. Let’s get started.
Blank page, screen or canvas. Silence. Fear behind it. Freedom to choose. To challenge the status quo. Feels awesome. Feels intimidating.
Blank space can turn into anything. Love poem or manifesto. Satire or SF. Deepak Chopra says that the blank space between the two thoughts is the field of infinite possibilities. ((Tweet this!)) Any thought can pop up after the blank space. Blank space is powerful. It is the promise of creation.
“Music is the space between the notes.” Claude Debussy ((Tweet this!))
Sparkle in the dark. New thought. New relationship between well known entities. The truth. Said in different voice. Something crazy. Something useless. Something smart. Provocative. Sincere. Something that everyone knows but no one says out loud.
Ideas will oftentimes startle you at weird places (yoga mat, shower, drive). But it can be overestimated. Ideas are not rare luxury. Ideas are the currency of 21st century, claims James Altucher. ((Tweet this!))They are not the privilege of chosen few. You can train yourself to become an Idea Machine. Start making ideas today. Share them. Lighten the world with your sparkles.
“Be less curious about people, be more curious about ideas.” Marie Curie ((Tweet this!))
Steven Pressfield writes the word Resistance with capital R. The ultimate enemy of creativity. You know the feeling when you sit down to write and all of a sudden you notice that you need to clean your room, check facebook, twitter, email and call a friend to see if she still needs help with dog grooming. That is Resistance. Procrastination, rationalization, overeating, time wasting on social networks, TV, fundamentalism, criticism, self-doubt, drama, fear. Resistance in many shapes and forms.
Resistance is the very thing that shows up when we accept the inner calling for creative, selfless, spiritual project, anything that requires courage and anything that has even a slight chance of failing. Resistance infallibly shows up. It is good to be aware of it. Enemy is the powerful teacher.
“If you’re are paralyzed with fear it’s a good sign. It shows you what you have to do.” Steven Pressfield ((Tweet this!))
You know what is your work. (Not your job and not your household chores.) Your inner calling. The thing you were brought here for. The very thing that you would do if you didn’t worry about money and time. That! Creative process tends to be seen as romanticized. In fact, it is a work. Labor. Getting your hands dirty. Showing up again and again.
Your mind will tell you that you are not ready. That now is not the good moment. That everything has already been said or done. That you need more practice. BS. Resistance. Don’t believe. Steven Pressfield allows you to read 3 books on the topic. That is enough. Start working. Work is indispensable.
“Nothing works unless you do.” Maya Angelou ((Tweet this!))
Creative process takes time. Yes, ideas can sparkle in shower, on yoga mat, during the walk, but creative process itself requires time. Devotions. Yes, the Muse exists, but she has to find you working, said Picasso. Meaning that you have to devote time. Not every now and then. Consistently. Every day. In order to be able to produce good work, you have to do a lot of it. 10 000 hours. Maybe more.
Time for creating won’t just appear miraculously in your calendar. You have to make it. Creating is not urgent but rather important task. No one will chase you to do it. It’s not as the bill you have to pay until the certain day or deadline that your boss imposed. Creativity is all about self discipline and creating time. One hour before work and one hour after dinner. Or something similar. Muse has to know where and when to find you.
“Forever is composed of nows.” Emily Dickinson ((Tweet this!))
Powerful word. Above mentioned Altucher even wrote a book about it. Danielle Laporte has a theory that every NO hides bigger YES. No to distractions, energetic vampires, mindless time wasting, endless social obligations. Yes to non distracted time, devoted to the act of creation. It is not easy to say NO. Blank page is scary. Resistance has already awaken. Self-doubt chatter is ringing in your head. Facebook is crying your name……
Say NO. Mindful, graceful NO. You know what is your work. Say NO to everything else. Invest in the future.
“A ‘No’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.” Mahatma Gandhi ((Tweet this!))
Western culture glorifies team work. However, creative work happens only in the solitude. Yes, brainstorming and idea exchange happens in team, yes, artists have to cooperate. But the very core of creative process happens in solitude. No one will do your work for you. Being alone is scary and uncomfortable for most of the people. But there is no way around it. You will never meet your Muse and find creative genius if you are running from one event to another or with consistent TV noise in the background.
Don’t let it scare you. There is a catch. Time devoted to creating is magical. When you turn off all of distractions and let yourself immerse, time will warp. You won’t be alone. You will be with your work and with your Muse. Don’t get surprised once you look at the clock. Dinner already?
“In order to understand the world one has to turn from it on occasion.” Albert Camus ((Tweet this!))
I didn’t understand this aspect of creativity for a long time. I was afraid of running out of the ideas, things to say, ways of expression. I had a fear that I will catch all the fish from my tiny pond. Opposite is true about the creativity. The more you create, the more ideas you have. The more ideas you produce, the more of them will be generated in your mind.
“If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.” George Bernard Shaw ((Tweet this!))
One of the big creative blocks is self doubt. And question “Is this good enough?” How can you know in the middle of creation are you actually doing something worthwhile? And the truth is YOU WON’T. So relax. Be happy that you have beaten the Resistance. Be happy that you have created the time. Acknowledge yourself. And continue.
Your success will be determined by the way you acted in crisis. Choose to persist. One step at the time. The quote that helped Steve Chandler greatly to deal with the addiction was :”Just today.” Don’t let the big picture paralyze you. Do your work today. Persist.
“It’s not that I am so smart. It is that I stay with problems longer.” Albert Einstein ((Tweet this!))
I will admit, this is the hardest part for me. Press the PUBLISH button. Show it to everyone. And you might be criticized. People might not get your point. They may openly disagree. Or they may not care. At all.
But there might be that one person. Sad. In pain. Alone. Waiting to hear just that. Waiting for sparkle of love. You might make her day. Will you steal from her? Hell no. Publish now!
“If you have knowledge, let others light their candles on it.” Margaret Fuller ((Tweet this!))
That’s it. Did I miss any important word? Please let me know in the comments bellow!