The Power of Ideas

Walt Disney was in his late 30’s when he got the idea for Disneyland. His daughters were young and he enjoyed taking them to the amusement park on Sundays. But while his daughters sat on the rides, he sat on the bench, munching peanuts and thinking.

He thought about how much fun the parks were for kids – but not the adults who brought them. They were dirty, ugly and litter strewn and he wondered if it had to be that way. Most of all he thought of ways to build a park that would be bigger, brighter, cleaner and more fun for the whole family.

It took 15 years for his vision to become a reality. And yes, there were a great many obstacles in the way, including being on the brink of bankruptcy.

But when the park opened in 1955, it was every bit as big and exciting as Disney’s dream.

A few years later, Disney decided to build the park in Orlando, Florida. Walt didn’t live to see the completion of the park – he died almost 5 years before it opened.

On the day it opened, someone commented to Mike Vance, the creative director of Disney Studios, “Isn’t it too bad, Walt Disney didn’t live to see this?”

“He did see it,” Vance replied simply, “That’s why it’s here”.

Now you may be saying, “That’s all very well for Walt, but how do I get creative?”

Here are 6 steps for unleashing your creativity:

1) Exercise your brain!

When I was a child, my grandmother constantly told me that “brains get rusty if you don’t use them”. Science has now proved that if you don’t exercise your neural pathways, they atrophy, and conversely, the pathways that get used, strengthen. SO START THINKING. Solve problems, learn to play chess, get creative. Just do it.

2) Read

In 1964 a Danish engineer, Karl Kroyer faced a nightmare problem. A freighter, Al Kuwait had capsized and sunk, hull upwards in Kuwait harbour. The submerged hull, full of rotting drowned sheep carcasses, threatened to contaminate city’s desalination plant. Kroyer’s solution? He pumped a total of 27 million ping pong balls into the hull so that the freighter slowly came back to the surface. Where did he get his idea? From a Donald Duck comic book he’d read to his children! One of the greatest ways to get inspired is to read inspirational books. Biographies, autobiographies, books on attitude, winning in life etc. Just do it for 15 minutes a day and you’ll notice the results before you know it.

3) Be observant

Most people go about their lives with their minds turned off. Just observe what’s going on around you. Can it be done better? Most inventions occur this way. A 27 and 29 year old wondered why it was do difficult to share their personal videos with their friends. Utube was born and recently sold for 1.65 BILLION dollars! Now there’s the power of observation – and doing something with it.

4) Spend time with creative people

A fire in a fireplace will not burn with just one log. It takes two logs to burn. The flame from one is reflected in the other. Surrounding yourself with creative people ensures that your flame ignites and continues to burn.

5) Brainstorm

One of the things Disney excelled at was “imagineering” sessions where the top people get in a room and do nothing but imagine the possibilities and design the ultimate in theme park attractions etc. In these sessions there are no mental limits, no horizons. The Disney organisation has created a culture that is completely idea friendly, honours the imagination and unleashes creativity. And Google, the world’s leading search engine (and boy wouldn’t I have loved to have shares when they were starting), has EXACTLY the same culture. Maybe that’s why they’re number one?

6) Turn your ideas into action

Ideas are absolutely worthless until we take action. Without action, an idea is just fantasy, a dream. An idea empowered with action becomes a force for change. Learn to focus, communicate and take risks with your ideas and bring them into fruition. Playing safe is boring. Go out and do something!