Johnny Holguin
thinking freelancer at work

The Great Deep Cooker of Creative Thinking

The following is cited from Earl Nightingale’s spoken-word program recorded some time in the 1960’s.

There’s a system for creative thinking, perhaps your familiar with it. First you define the problem. Put it on paper. Quite often just defining it leads to a solution.

The next step is to begin gathering data with regard to the idea. We need to find out all we can about the possible ways in which such an idea might be solved. We need to read about it, talk to people who had similar problems, find out all we can about it.

Next we need to write down possible solutions. Turn the problem every way but loose. Worry it like a puppy with a slipper. If it has to do with a product can it be made larger, smaller, a different shape or color, simpler. You know it’s generally believed that in order to produce a product of excellent quality, it must cost more. The old icodemy still hangs on the idea that if something is inexpensive it must not be of the highest quality. Well that’s ridiculous. It can be inexpensive and still be of excellent quality. Think in terms of simplification. Can the superfluous be taken away. Sometimes a superior product must cost more because of the quality of its components and manufacturer, but not necessarily. Excellent products turned out at very reasonable costs.

After you’ve thought about it until you begin to dream about it and talked to yourself about it… then forget it. Let it slip down into the great cooker of your subconscious mind where the archetypes of your racial memory and your genetic wizardry and ten million ancestors can all work on it and hold it up against a thousand solutions. The mind is like a super computer. It’ll work on a problem while we’re doing other things. Let it cook as long as it needs to. And then one bright morning, if your like I am it will usually wake you up at about four in the morning, the answer will pop into your mind as clear and simple and perfect as anything you ever saw in your life. You then yell eureka, leap out of bed and write the answer down on a piece of paper as fast as you can. If you don’t the idea can slip away as quietly and mysteriously as it came. And you can spend the next 20 years trying to recall it.

The next step is to put the solution to work and stay with it till completion. Don’t try to play it too safe. Nobody ever got to second base trying to keep one foot on first. Either you have confidence in your ideas or you don’t. Getting good ideas is only about ten percent of the job. The ninety percent is the follow through. The person who will follow a good idea through till completion is one of the most valuable people in our society.