12 Ways to Get Breakthrough Ideas(continuation)


Today We Will Be Discussing On Tolerating Ambiguity And Making New Connections

3. Tolerate Ambiguity
Breakthrough ideas are not always the result of a revolutionary Eureka! moment. On the contrary,
they are often the result of an evolutionary series of approximations or failed experiments.


When Thomas Edison was asked how it felt to fail 800 times before coming up with tungsten
as the filament for the light bulb, his answer was a revealing one. “Fail?” he said. “I didn’t fail once.
I learned 800 times what didn’t work.”
Edison had the ability to tolerate ambiguity—to “not know.” Like most breakthrough thinkers,
he had the ability to dwell in the “grey zone.” Confusion was not his enemy.
“Confusion,“ explained Henry Miller, is simply “a word we have invented for an order that is not
yet understood.”
If you are attempting to birth a breakthrough idea, get comfortable with discomfort. Give up your
addiction to having all your ducks in a row—at least in the beginning of your discovery process.
People may think you’re a “quack,” but so what? Your chances of birthing a breakthrough idea (and
result) exponentially increase the more you are able to tolerate ambiguity.
What new idea of yours is bubbling on the brink of breakthrough? In what ways can you stay
with it, even if something in you is impatient for a breakthrough?
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4. Make New Connections
True creativity rarely happens in a vacuum. On the contrary, it is the product of two or more variables
connecting in a new way. It happens all of the time in nature. Water, for example, is really just the
connection between hydrogen and oxygen. It happens in the human realm as well. Roller blading is
nothing more than the connection between ice skating and roller skating. MT V? Nothing more than
the connection between music and television. Drive in banking? Car + banking.
The originators of these breakthrough products didn’t pull rabbits out of thin air. All they did was see
a new, intriguing (and potentially commercial) connection between already existing elements.
Why don’t more of us make these kinds of connections? Because we usually stay within the confines
of what we already know. We live in a box of our own creation – whether that box be defined by our
nationality, profession, concepts, cubicle, or astrological sign.
The more we are willing to get out of this box, the more likely it will be that powerful new connections
will reveal themselves to us—uncommon linkages between this, that, and the other thing—
kind of the way it was for Johannes Gutenberg when he noticed a previously undetected connection
between the wine press and coin punch.
And so the printing press was born.
Make three parallel lists of ten words. The first list? Nouns. The second list? Verbs. The third list?
Adjectives. Then look for intriguing new connections between them.
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