Think about an older person that you know, one you would describe as youthful. What’s the distinguishing characteristic of this lively elder? I’m guessing that curiosity about anything and everything is what stands out.

It’s the same quality that makes for successful entrepreneurship. We need to be curious about our own industry, of course, but we need to be equally curious about things that seem to have no direct bearing on what we’re up to. After all, the world is full of people who are crazy about things we know nothing about  and discovering what they love can make our lives richer.

One Thanksgiving, I had dinner with a group of relatives I didn’t know very well. The sister of the hostess sat next to me at dinner and the moment she sat down announced, “I want to have my own business.” I asked her if she knew what she wanted to do and she lit right up. “I love doing beadwork. I come home from my job and go right to my project room and bead all night,” she told me. The moment dinner was over, she whipped out her beads and spent the afternoon making jewelry. It was fascinating to watch her work and her joy was visible.

A few minutes later, my cousin Ray came over to visit with me. Ray has been a farmer his entire life raising corn and soybeans. A few years ago, he turned several acres of his farm into vineyards—an unusual crop in Minnesota. In his second year of production, his crop outperformed all expectations. He was so excited about this new aspect of his business and had a list of ideas for building it. I couldn’t wait to return in the summer to see his vines.

Even though I may never take up beading or growing grapes myself, being with these enthusiastic folks who were eager to bring their ideas to life was not only fun, their creative energy was downright contagious. I spent my long drive home stopping to write down ideas for my own business.

British author C.S. Lewis obviously understood the Idea Virus. He said, “Good things as well as bad are caught by a kind of infection. If you want to get warm you must stand near the fire; if you want to get wet you must get into the water. If you want joy, peace eternal life, you must get close to, or  even into  the thing that has them. They are a great fountain of energy and beauty spurting up at the very center of reality.  If you are close to it, the spray will wet you ; if you are not, you will remain dry.”

$100 Hour: Find a way to get paid to do something you usually pay to do. Love dining out? Sign up to be a mystery diner and enjoy dinner out in exchange for evaluating the service, food, etc. Love the symphony? Volunteer to be an usher. There are endless possibilities if you are willing to investigate.

Explore More:  Need some help brainstorming or clarifying an idea? Alice Barry, is a gifted Idea Artisan who spreads the Idea Virus wherever she goes. In the words of one of her happy clients, “She helped me to see and clarify a fuzzy picture of myself, who I want to be and  what I want to do.  She also helped me to see clearly how much I have already accomplished and gave me suggestions how to continue to build on this foundation.” If you need some idea-building assistance, a telephone consultation with Alice could get you moving forward.

An idea can turn to dust or magic…depending on the talent that rubs against it. ~ William Bernback