"If only I could come up with a million-dollar idea, I could retire early."

It's a phrase I often hear after someone listens to a How I Built This podcast, or after the latest Inc. 5000 ranking comes out.

"They're no more smarter than I am, why can't I come up with anything?"

Then I watch their face grimace in defeat as they give up in frustration. I think too many talented and capable people throw their hands up in the air because they can't come up with that "aha!" idea.

You may have felt the same, and given up on finding your million-dollar idea too.

Take a Break and Try Again

If you have, you need to hear this loud and clear: Take a break but keep at it.

Think about Steve Jobs. He is legendary for taking long walks to to clear his head when he hit a brainstorming wall - but he didn't quit until he found the solution that was escaping him.

That's what you must do as well. When you hit that wall - and you will - take a break, clear your head, then start at it again.

Don't Quit When Your Idea Doesn't Come

The sad thing is most people quit when they hit that first wall, when their idea could be right around the corner.

What they should be doing is taking a break, then picking up where they left off. That's what Steve did. He kept at it and always had the best ideas in the room.

Because he didn't give up.

That's what scientific researchers Brian Lucas and Loran Nordgren confirm. When it comes to creativity, our best ideas come after our first round of failed ideas (People underestimate the value of persistence for creative performance).

Read that again: Our best ideas come after our first round of failed ideas.

To Create a Million-Dollar Idea, Keep at It

Creative brilliance, unlike scientific brilliance, requires no special skills. You don't have to be a genius. You don't have to be a savant. You don't have to be a prodigy. (See: KQED Forum: Kevin Ashton on the Secret History Behind the World's Amazing Inventions.)

You just have to keep at it. And at it. And at it.

Persistence is more important than brilliance when brainstorming.

Have Faith in Yourself

Next time you hit the wall when looking for your million-dollar idea, take a break, collect your thoughts, and get back to it again. The next Facebook could be just around the corner.

Your idea is out there, but you'll never find it if you give up.

Published on: Apr 21, 2017