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Creative Career Path

Idea Marathon2010.09.15

    Ideas are like dreams. If you don’t capture them soon after they occur, they easily fade from memory. Even if you manage to jot them down, they are notoriously difficult to organize unless you have a system for idea capture.


    Ideas are fragile because they are not easy to communicate. Ideas are subject to criticism whenever they threaten the status quo. Many people mistake criticism, which is easy; with critical thinking, which is hard. It is much easier to shoot an idea down than to make it fly.


    Franchise consultant Tom Feltenstein says that “The power of an idea can be measured by the resistance to it.” He has an amusing video on 99 idea killers that are guaranteed to put your company on the trash heap, and they come right out of normal conversation.


    As a result, in both families and companies, people learn quickly that if you have ideas, you will have to work hard to get them accepted, and may find it easier to just keep them to yourself. The only problem with that approach is that the muse does not linger long where it is unwanted. Stop capturing your ideas, and you’ll soon have no ideas to capture.


    The best way to increase the flow and quality of your ideas is to capture and cultivate them continuously. Do you want to be more creative, original, and innovative? Tap the power of invention and continuous improvement? There is a method for doing just this, called the Idea Marathon.


    The Idea Marathon System (IMS) is an innovative method of capturing and developing ideas on paper. The IMS method is simple, and extremely rewarding to anyone who practices it over time:


    1. Think of at least one idea a day

    2. Write it down immediately in a notebook

    3. Illustrate your ideas whenever possible

    4. Talk about your ideas with friends, family, and colleagues

    5. Put your best ideas into practice


    If this becomes a habit, and is launched with the proper external support, you will discover hidden abilities, express your originality, and contribute as a highly creative person.


    If you practice the Idea Marathon for 3 months, spending just 15 minutes a day, you will accumulate over 100 ideas, and experience greater fluency in your thinking processes. If you continue the process for 6 months to a year, you will experience a fundamental change in the ease, originality, and effectiveness in how you generate, illustrate, express, and implement ideas. When practiced in a company or organization as a Group Idea Marathon, it has a lasting impact on motivation, productivity, and innovation.


    A Japanese proverb holds that perseverance brings power (keizoku wa chikara nari). The genius of this system is that it is practically barrier free to begin.


    The Idea Marathon System was developed by Takeo Higuchi, who began capturing his ideas daily in notebooks in January 1984. He has since produced close to 330,000 ideas using this system, in 385 notebooks, currently averaging 50 ideas per day. He has written a series of books about the IMS, which have been published in multiple languages. The IMS has been practiced by over 5,000 people, in organizations, government offices, and educational institutions. In Japan IMS has been used by IT companies and sales organizations in corporate education and innovation, by Toshiba, Daikin, Pioneer, and Takata-Japanet, as well as the Department of Technology at the University of Virginia since 1997, Texas A&M Department of History since 2009, and at several universities in Korea.


    Of course, there is a knack to kindling creativity in a group, and this is where 25 years of experience makes the difference between magic, and just going through the motions.


    Working directly with Mr. Higuchi, and as a member of the Japan Creativity Society, I have seen this method take hold with people in business and universities. I have explored many approaches to idea generation, and each have their advantages. But for simplicity and effectiveness, this is hard to beat. I’ve produced an image video with narration about the Idea Marathon, which you can view at


    William Reed


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    Article Writer

    William Reed

    William Reed is a renowned author-speaker who coaches physical finesse and flexible focus for a creative career path. A certified Master Trainer in Guerrilla Marketing and 7th-dan in Aikido, he combines practical wisdom of East and West to help you learn personal branding at the Entrepreneurs Creative Edge.

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