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Have you ever met someone who was an idea machine?

You give them a problem to solve, and in just a few minutes they’ve come up with half a dozen creative ideas.

In fact, you can ask them anything, and they’ll give you enough ideas to keep yourself busy for weeks

But… wouldn’t you like to be that idea machine?

Just one idea – the right idea – can be worth millions. The problem is, in order to have that one million dollar idea, you first need to have hundreds or thousands of ideas that aren’t as good.

Case in point:

Imagine you never work out, and then one day you’ve got to lift a heavy object off of your own chest or you’ll die. If you’re weak as water and can’t lift that thing, then you’re a goner. But if you’ve been exercising your muscles, then you can throw that object across the room and go about your life.

Your brain works much the same way as a muscle.

If you use it daily, it’s sharp and ready to tackle whatever comes its way.

But if you just park your brain in front of the television all day long, it’s going to be weak as water.

And when you need it most, it’s going to fail you.

James Altucher says that when a gun is to your head, you either figure it out or you die.

Think of the times in your life when you hit bottom and you were forced to come up with ideas.

The worse the situation you’re in, the more motivation you have to come up with some great ideas.

But if you haven’t been using your brain much, then it’s going to be difficult.

That’s why it’s important to exercise your brain right now, because ideas are the currency of life.

As James Altucher says, when you become an idea machine, you’re like a superhero.

No matter what situation you’re in, you’ll have a ton of ideas. If you need to make money, you’ll come up with 50 different ideas, and so on.

And this is the process Altucher recommends for turning yourself into an idea machine:

  • Get a waiter’s pad, or any pad that fits in your pocket.
  • Sit quietly – maybe in a café somewhere – and read an inspirational book for ten to twenty minutes.
  • Then start writing down ideas. Any ideas. All ideas.

You’ve got to write 10 ideas.

Yes, ten.

  • Pick a subject and come up with ten ideas.
  • Maybe it’s 10 ideas for a book you want to write.
  • 10 ideas on how to get a better job or get a raise.
  • 10 business ideas.
  • The first 5 will be easy. 6 is a little harder. 7 through 10 might feel like they’re going to break your brain.

But… what if you can’t come up with 10 ideas?

Then come up with 20.

If you can’t find 10 ideas, then you’re putting too much pressure on yourself to come up with PERFECT ideas.

Forget perfect.

Forget trying to top the ideas you already wrote down.

Focus on coming up with BAD ideas, and your brain will relax.

You’ll have fun.

Creativity will flow, and you’ll be surprised at what you think of.

Do this exercise every day.

EVERY day.

At the end of one year, you have 3,650 ideas.

Hopefully you’ve acted on a few of them.

The point is to exercise your brain so that no matter what happens in life, you can find the solution.

But how do you act on an idea?

By taking the first step.

Here’s Altucher’s favorite example of acting on an idea:

  • Richard Branson didn’t like the service on some airline he was flying. So, he had an idea: I’m going to start a new airline.
  • How can a magazine publisher start an airline from scratch with no money?
  • His first step. He called Boeing to see if they had an airplane he could lease.
  • No idea is so big you can’t take the first step.
  • If the first step seems to hard, make it simpler.
  • And don’t worry again if the idea is bad. This is all practice.

The ten ideas exercise is my favorite brain exercise, but I encourage you to do other brain exercises as well.

Choose exercises that help with memory, increase creativity, or somehow enhance your cognitive skills.

Pick what works best for you, because it helps if you like what you’re doing.

If you dread something it will never be a daily habit, and the whole idea is to be consistent in striving to reach your goals.