The better travelled and educated you are, the more art you take in, the more fun you have, the more people you talk to, the more philosophies you experience, the more information you gather, the more your mind grinds and flourishes and the more ideas you will have.
Engage in observations, lookout for unsolved problems in your environment and build on those insights. Breakthrough ideas can’t be identified in isolation. You need to find and pursue inspiration in order to stimulate your brain to think in new and creative ways. Dedicate some of your time to specific sessions where you get your mind into thinking differently and redefining existing solutions. My preferred technique is to go out and watch people. Walking through the streets of Munich introduces me to exciting activities and fascinating behaviors. All of them positively impacting my thoughts and making me think anew.
Interact with strangers, gather different opinions and make new friends. Hanging around with the same people limits your possibilities to open your mind and forces your thoughts running in circles. Don’t get stuck in a thinking rut. Use your LinkedIn connections and start some exciting discussions. Or ask a question on Quora and engage in upcoming conversations on topics you are unfamiliar with. No matter what you do, just make sure to socialize outside your normal environment. New people don’t know your thought patterns, background and mindset, so you’ll have to revisit your existing inner thoughts and rearticulate them in a way that everyone from your new audience understands what you actually mean. Take advantage of their input, because it will help you develop fresh perspectives and reinforce new ways of thinking. This is your chance to surface a lightning bolt or two.
Read more books and start devoting yourself to scientific papers. Google Scholar for example is a great tool to begin your scientific journey. When it comes to books don’t focus too much on business books. Of course, they help learning new stuff and offer different ways of thinking. Nevertheless, try reading fiction, thrillers and biographies again. They are wonderful for developing fresh thoughts and inspiring brilliant ideas. Their stories get you out of your daily headspace and free your mind. Your brain needs distraction in order to unconsciously process information. This way it will connect already existing knowledge with recently learned information and develop new thoughts. In doing so you can relax and enjoy your novel while being sure to have activated your secret idea generator. If you can’t make time for a book, browse the web with your smartphone to read shorter articles. I am sure you’ll find plenty of thought stimulation.