Sitting For Ideas

Can you imagine finding a quiet comfortable place to sit, then closing your eyes and peacefully waiting for marvelous ideas to arrive inside your mind? Ideas that would improve your life, offer you specific direction and help you to navigate the world.

There is such a place and it’s inside of every one of us.

One of my favorite mentors is Napoleon Hill. I’ve written about him before and probably mentioned that, when he was a cub reporter, he was given the opportunity to interview Andrew Carnegie, who was one of the wealthiest men in the world.

Carnegie took a liking to Napoleon and extended to him introductions to many of the most successful people in business, finance, and the scientific world. Napoleon would spend his next ten years assembling their best ideas and placing them in his book, Think Big and Grow Rich, which is still one of the top ten best-selling self-help books ever published.

Elmer Gates was one of Napoleon’s interviews. Elmer was a prolific inventor and at the turn of the 20th Century owned the largest private laboratory in the world. Napoleon was curious to know where all his ideas came from. When he arrived at Elmer’s office, the secretary asked him to take a seat and told him it might be a while, because Mr. Gates was ‘sitting for ideas’.

Eventually Elmer came out to meet Napoleon and invited him into his office and explained about his delay. He told Napoleon that when confronted with a problem or seeking a solution for a workable invention, he would ‘sit for ideas’. By this he meant that he would enter a darkened room which had only a desk, a chair, a pencil, a pad, and a flashlight. Without distractions, he would sit and wait for ideas, and when something came to him, he would write it down, then go back to sitting until the next idea came. Elmer told Napoleon that this was how he was able to discover answers and solutions that had evaded his busy waking mind.

Given Elmer Gates enormous success it makes me wonder what I can gain from this strategy.

I’m not immediately drawn to the darkened room approach, and you may not be either, but I feel there is something of significant value here.

Perhaps it is that, releasing distractions, creating a peaceful open environment, and embracing an attitude of expectation are key components to success.

I have little doubt that each of us would be well served by distancing ourselves, for even short periods of time, from life’s distractions. Shifting our environment, whether that is a darkened room, a long hot shower, a walk in nature or a meditation period, would give us time and space that could be greatly beneficial.

For me, there are many mornings when I wake up filled with thoughts and ideas. So many, that I have to begin writing them down the moment they come to me. That’s why there are pads all over my house, so that none of my ideas escape. I refer to this process as my overnight download.

I don’t know where the ideas come from. I could speculate, but what feels important to me is their arrival, not their source.

Elmer Gates is not the only person to take advantage of seeing beyond the observable world. Michelangelo said that every block of stone has a masterpiece inside of it and that the job of the sculptor is to let it out.

I believe that in order to find the masterpiece living inside of each of us we need to open ourselves to a truth. A truth that we are a part of the divine, whole and holy. A truth that every answer exists within us, and it is our task to set it free. Believing this and expecting to discover our answers is the gateway to all ideas becoming real.

2 Replies to “Sitting For Ideas”

  1. “I always keep paper and pencil next to my bed. If I don’t write down the idea when it appears, God will take it down the block to Henry Mancini.”
    –Quincy Jones, winner of 31 Grammy Awards

    Like

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