New ideas and connections emerge in the empty space between two unrelated interests.

Issue #5 - The Secret Behind Inspiration & Idea Generation

Growth Mindset Nov 2, 2022

Welcome to the latest issue of The Qi of Self-Sovereignty. The newsletter exploring what it means to be free in an increasingly not-so-free world.

Whether you're looking to locate your authentic self or investigate sovereignty, you're in the right place! Each week, with just a few minutes of reading, I aim to expand your awareness through a quote and a piece of content that made me go hmm...

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Thought-Provoking Quote:

"Becoming the best version of yourself requires you to continuously edit your beliefs, and to upgrade and expand your identity." - James Clear

Along my personal journey, I have come to realize that I struggle to write when I haven't read enough that week.

However, before this realization, I would question whether I was cut out for writing and if writing was for me. That was until…

While on a train between Rome and La Spezia, attempting to distract myself from these children listening to Italian TV, I put on an eye-opening podcast, Polina Pompliano interviewing James Clear. For the unfamiliar, this is the author of the successful "Atomic Habits."

In this talk, James opens up to the fact that even for him, he struggles to write unless he consumes. He analogizes it to owning a car.

If we don't fill up our car, we'll run out of gas.

However, we don't own a car to sit at the gas station filling up all day.

We have to find a balance between filling up and exploring.

We need gas, or in other words, new content coming in to create ideas. But we also have to strike a balance between consuming and creating.

I realized at that moment that this self-doubt, where I felt I lacked inspiring new innovative ideas, was not unique to me. Even prolific writers like James, at times, wrestle with idea generation.

What's more, not all content… actually, I would argue, no content is entirely new and innovative. Instead, it is a culmination of previously consumed content.

What makes something engaging and fresh is that the writer has taken previously consumed content and interpreted it through their own eyes, experiences and understanding, turning it into something new and something that is their own.

Therefore, to maximize idea generation, we must consume.

Greater inputs = greater outputs.

Insightful content which made me go, hmm...

If, while on this train journey from Rome, the insight had stopped at "greater inputs = greater outputs," I would have been more than grateful.

But... the children were still listening to Italian TV, so I continued consuming.

I followed up the podcast by Polina with Stephen Hawkins' final book, "Brief Answers to Big Questions."

Looking back, I was unknowingly about to create a connection between these two totally unrelated pieces of content.

While reading, I stumbled across this sentence:

"if two black holes collide and merge to form a single black hole, the area of the event horizon around the resulting black hole is greater than the sum of the areas of the event horizons around the original black holes."

In order words, when two black holes merge to become one, the perimeter of the new black hole, known as the event horizon, is greater than the sum of the two black holes independently. That's fascinating!

You're probably scratching your head, "what do black holes have to do with idea generation?"

Initially, when I read this, it went in one ear and then out the other. However, while pondering this statement further, I realized collision and expansion are what happens when our current knowledge base collides with new information.

When we consume new information, we not only add to our knowledge base but also create new connections between our current knowledge and any new information.

We are, in essence, expanding our knowledge base beyond the sum of our current and any new knowledge.

I like to think of it as:

Current Knowledge + New Knowledge = Combined Knowledge + New Ideas & Connections

New ideas and connections emerge in the empty space between two unrelated interests.

Let's look at an example.

Two of my favourite areas of interest are macroeconomics and trauma. At first, my experience in each area was minimal, so these interests seemed very much separate.

However, after delving into these two areas independently, I started to formulate connections.

I was unknowingly expanding my knowledge base beyond the sum of my consumed knowledge.

I realized that economics plays a pivotal role in the parent-child relationship, which governs our ability to express ourselves as individuals.

Here is a short excerpt from one of my favourite personally written articles, "The Downfall of Culture & Authenticity."

"If our parents were emotionally unavailable due to financial pressures (I.e. their work/family balance heavily leaned towards work), we most likely prioritized peer attachment to fit in and feel accepted. However, most children don't feel comfortable exposing their vulnerabilities to their peers. Therefore, we unintentionally learn to disconnect from these emotions to detach from internal discomfort. This breeds a sense of helplessness as we never learn how to process our emotions effectively."

If I had only explored macroeconomics or trauma, I would not have had the experience to create connections between these two disparate areas.

However, with my interests being what they are, new ideas and connections formed on the horizon between these two bodies of information—this idea generation at work.

To summarize, greater inputs equal greater outputs.

When we consume information, we're not just adding to our knowledge base but greatly increasing it by creating new ideas through new connections.

As self-sovereign individuals, this week, I challenge you to write. Put together anywhere from a couple of paragraphs to an article, combining two of your areas of interest. And… I'd love to hear what you've written if you feel comfortable sharing.

Thanks for taking the time to read this issue of The Qi of Self-Sovereignty. I hope you found it insightful.

I always welcome feedback and thoughts. So, do not hesitate to respond to the newsletter email, comment on the article or reach out via Twitter.


The future is bright!