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How to Open and Connect Your Idea Machine

Sharing ideas, which may not the most natural way of being for an entrepreneur, can be pretty powerful and rewarding in practice. If you’re an entrepreneur, think about sharing your ideas, rather than hoarding and keeping them to yourself.

You just might find that in addition to helping others, you’re also helping yourself by creating and growing a sense of openness, spaciousness and connectedness. These feelings of openness, spaciousness, and connectedness can be quite liberating and refreshing on the entrepreneurship journey, not to mention life!

As Closed as Closed Can Get

I used to be a closed as closed can get, for reasons I’m still uncovering and understanding. As I began just rolling with it, I realized how unhappy the isolation I had created for myself was making me. My existence felt like me against the world. As each day and year passed by, I became more closed-off and isolated.

Feelings of loneliness and defensiveness arose and fed off each other during this time, as I convinced myself that I –

  • Was a one-man-show.
  • Didn’t need anyone or any connection with the outside world.

The exceptions to the second point were those connections that had a very specific purpose or contribution to the progress that I was making; by myself and, mostly, for myself.

I think these feelings are pretty commonplace among entrepreneurs. They don’t necessarily come from a bad place and can simply emerge out of a sense of independence and self-reliance that contribute to the success of many entrepreneurs.

Learning the Importance of Openness and Connectedness

We come alive as we rediscover the truth of our goodness and our natural connectedness to all of life.

Tara Brach Radical Acceptance

As I continued just rolling with it, reading about mindfulness and then moving in the direction of Buddhism, I rediscovered the importance of connectedness. I say rediscovered since we’re all born with an understanding of how important being connected to other and the world is to our being.So I started to work on opening up to other people and the world around me.

…everything changes when you can see things on different levels simultaneously, when you can see fullness and connectedness as well as individuality and separateness.

Jon Kabat-ZinnFull Catastrophe Living

Over time, trying to stay open and appreciate being connected to others and the larger world around me started to and continues to feel really good. I’m feeling a lot less isolated, lonely and defensive as a result.

For example, I was sitting in the cafeteria at Costco the other day, doing some work on my laptop, while waiting for new tires to be installed on my car. A stranger asked if he could share the table with me. I agreed, which I would have done in the past.

However, rather than focus even more intently on my laptop, giving off the vibe that I didn’t want to be bothered, I started a conversation with the gentleman, by complementing his adult version of a tryicycle.This opened up a pretty amazing conversation.

It turns out this person had previously been a physician, suffered a stroke nearly 25 years ago, and had since taught himself to speak again, as well as ride his bicycle, even though he had lost all movement in his right arm and leg. Had I done what I would have done a few years ago and closed myself off and turned inward, I would have missed out on this amazing connection and inspiring story.

Becoming an Idea Machine to Stay Open and Connected

IDEAS ARE THE CURRENCY OF LIFE. Not money. Money gets depleted until you go broke. But good ideas buy you good experiences, buy you better ideas, buy you better experiences, buy you more time, save your life.

James AltucherChoose Yourself

Coming back to entrepreneurship, I recently decided to work at becoming an Idea Machine, along the lines of James Altucher’s writing. James suggests that ideas are the currency of modern times and that becoming an idea machine is a way for us to exercise our idea muscle, to generate an abundance of this currency.He suggests we exercise this muscle by generating ten ideas a day, every day, and that if we do this, our lives will be remarkably different, for the better, every six months.

So give ideas for free, and then when you meet others, give more ideas.

James AltucherChoose Yourself

James also suggests that we openly share and give away our ideas.At first this seemed counterintuitive to me as an entrepreneur. I think that most entrepreneurs do their best to protect their ideas, to prevent them from getting stolen. Plus, if ideas are the currency of modern times, why would I want to give away my currency?

Abundance Generates Abundance

If you operate according to the abundance mentality, and be grateful for the ideas that are flowing through you, then they will be infinite – and they will keep flowing.

James AltucherChoose Yourself

I started thinking about sharing ideas in the context of openness and connectedness. James’ suggestion began to make more sense to me. Why shouldn’t I brainstorm my ideas and make them publicly available to anyone who comes across them?I’m already enjoying the benefits of exercising my idea muscle.

Experiencing the relief of getting all the ideas out of my head, that build throughout the day, feels like a pressure release valve, being pushed each day. I also feel fortunate that I’m never lacking for ideas, good or bad, and simply don’t have the time to pursue them all.Since I started the exercise, I’m feeling even more open and spacious than before.

Getting the ideas out of my head and into a space where they can be shared feels liberating. I also feel like giving the ideas away is allowing more and more ideas to be generated, kind of like an idea assembly line that has become unstuck.

So if there is someone out there with the time and inclination to take one of my ideas and run with it, fantastic, best of luck to you! I’m also learning through this exercise that entrepreneurship doesn’t have to be a zero sum game and that, just as James suggests, giving away ideas simply clears out room to generate even more ideas.

Opening Up and Staying Connected as an Entrepreneur

So if you’re an entrepreneur and are feeling closed off, isolated, defensive, distrustful and like you’re battling the world on your own, think about –

  • What it might feel like to begin opening up to the world around you, rather than shutting it out.
  • Sharing your ideas, rather than hoarding them.
  • Allowing your ideas to reach others, without expecting a return.

You might just find that your world become a more open and spacious place, while your success multiplies along with the success of others. If you’re looking for some guidance on how to do this, check out the books by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Pema Chodron, Tara Brach and James Altucher on the Just Rolling with It book list.