“You’ve failed your PhD.”
These 4 words were all my supervisor told me after I presented the research I had been working on for the past two grueling years of my life.
He didn’t have to tell me why.
I knew — there was no scientific novelty or breakthrough idea.
Feeling like I’d just been hit by a truck, I left my supervisor’s office and was walking aimlessly around campus…. when I heard an inner voice: “Don’t give up!”
I went home and started to write down ideas.
My plan was to hit 20 and choose the best…
But by the time I reached 15, I’d run out… and to top it all off, all of them were bad.
After 2 more ideas, I decided to head out for drinks with some friends instead.
I arrived home drunk and tired later that evening.
I pulled out my keys to open the door and stopped.
A winning idea had suddenly popped into my mind!
Fast forward a couple of months — I successfully completed my thesis, presented it to the committee and got my PhD!
But this story is not about me getting my PhD. Or even the idea that got me my PhD.
This story is about the idea of coming up with a great idea. (Very meta, I know…)
Society labels some people as creative geniuses.
Whether they’re authors, tech entrepreneurs, designers, filmmakers or musicians… there seem to be people who are beyond human.
But when we learn more about them — and if we’re lucky enough to get to know them personally — we realize they’re human after all. And they know it!
In this interview, Ed Sheeran explains how he writes great songs.
“You [should] view [creativity] as a dirty tap. When you switch the dirty tap on, it’s going to flow shit water out for a substantial amount of time. And then clean water’s going to start flowing. And now and then you’ll get a bit shit, but as long as it gets out of you, it’s fine.”
Most creative people know this. And they train their brains to not give up.
Mozart wrote over 600 compositions. Edison had 1,000+ patents. And the Beatles wrote hundreds of songs that you’ve probably never heard…
Are all of them Don Giovannis, light bulbs, or Hey Judes?
No — we’ve likely only heard about their “clean water” creations.
So, let’s try an exercise together — to unlock your inner Mozart.
Write down 20 strategies on how you can achieve your primary goal.
The first 10 will come easily… the next 5 might be a struggle… and the last 5 will be a nightmare!
But don’t close the faucet. Leave it open.
Just instruct your brain that you need to get to 20.
And you’ll be surprised at what you end up with!
P.S. Drinking alcohol might have helped me, but I don’t recommend you count on it as an idea facilitator.