First, list down a many things that you enjoy or love doing e.g. playing cricket, fishing, teaching, accounting etc. First a top-of-mind list, and then add an activity a day for a couple of weeks. Interrogate each entry by asking ‘specifically what about this activity do I love?’ e.g. being in the outdoors? Testing my patience? Plotting and planning? , Explaining and simplifying? Playing with numbers? Etc.So, you’ll have two lists here – one that spells out activities, and the other that narrows the activities down to specific processes within those activities.
2. What am I good at?
Or, what can I become good at with a little practice or training? You may find yourself listing some of the things already listed in Step 1, but never mind. For many, there could be things that we do well, that we don’t particularly like. E.g. spring cleaning, managing a crisis, appraisal etc. Again, look critically at these activities and list down what specifically in those activities are we good at? For those self-critical types who start feeling that they are good at nothing, don’t panic, and just think of what you are ‘least bad’ at.
3. Enjoy + Good At = Idea
Now for the action – we need to combine the results of the two steps above to generate a list of activities that will have elements of ‘good at’ and ‘like doing’. Now, don’t worry about feasibility just yet – just think wild. E.g. if you love 'explaining things', and you are good at manipulating numbers, you could think of ‘Arithmetic Teacher’, ‘Psephologist’, or even ‘Data Visualiser’ (look this up here). Make this list as exhaustive and interesting as possible. Give yourself a month and write down at least one new possibility each day.
4. Idea + Impact = Big Idea
As the ideas emerge they need to be assessed for the impact that they can create. Is the idea meaningful? Does it produce something new? Something better? Will it substantially enhance quality of life? Will it affect a large number of people? Will it inspire people? What is its impact on me ?
5. Big idea + Money = New Career
How would you make money out of this big idea? How do I make it saleable? This could involve writing a marketing plan on a paper napkin. Or going back to step 4 and modifying it to build in the money. Or going back to step 3 and combining elements of different ideas.
I can think of three benefits of following the process:
First, you may get your life changing idea right away. Second, the process may reveal many hidden competencies and interests. Third, you could end up doing what you are doing a bit differently and hence ‘meaningfully’! If nothing else, it could just be a fun thing to do.
Now could we apply the same steps to brands? Could we give a struggling brand a new lease of life? Could it be a simple way of figuring out potential extensions? or a way to rationalise a brand portfolio?