Here’s How to Invent the Next Facebook (Hint: It Has Nothing to do With Intelligence)

“If only I could come up with a million-dollar idea, I could retire early.”

It’s a phrase I often hear after someone listens to the latest How I Built This podcast, or after the latest Inc. 5000 ranking comes out.

“They’re no more smarter than I am, why can’t I come up with anything?”

Then, not long after this, I watch as faces grimace in defeat and they give up in frustration. Too many talented and capable people throw their hands up in the air because they can’t come up with that “aha!” idea.

You may have felt the same, and given up on finding your million-dollar idea too.

Take a Break and Try Again

If you have, you need to hear this loud and clear: Take a break and keep at it.

Think about Steve Jobs. He is legendary for taking long walks to to clear his head when he hit a brainstorming wall – but he didn’t quit until he found the solution that was escaping him.

That’s what you must do as well. When you hit a brainstorming wall, take a break, clear your head, then start at it again.

Don’t Quit When Your Idea Doesn’t Come

Instead, most people quit when they hit that first brainstorming wall.

What they should be doing is taking a break, then picking up where they left off. That’s what Steve did. He kept at it and always had the best (and most) ideas in the room.

That’s what scientific researchers Brian Lucas and Loran Nordgren confirm. When it comes to creativity, our best ideas come after our first round of failed ideas (People underestimate the value of persistence for creative performance).

Read that again: Our best ideas come after our first round of failed ideas.

To Create a Million-Dollar Idea, Keep at It

Creative brilliance (unlike scientific brilliance) requires no special skills. You don’t have to be a genius. You don’t have to be a savant. You don’t have to be a prodigy. (See: KQED Forum: Kevin Ashton on the Secret History Behind the World’s Amazing Inventions.)

You just have to keep at it. And at it. And at it.

Persistence is more important than brilliance when brainstorming.

Have Faith in Yourself

Next time you hit the wall when looking for your million-dollar idea, take a break, collect your thoughts, and get back to it again.

Your idea is out there waiting for you to discover it. You can discover it. But you’ll never find it if you quit.