I had a conversation with my friend Dano, and I thought of a few more things about ideas.
'The progression of design history has not been a progression of new ideas, but the identification of new aspects of the same old problems."
It's not the ideas through history that have been important. That is just the part that people notice. They don't notice why they came up with the new idea. They don't think about the fact that it didn't come from nowhere.
I think to a large extent, as a designer I have been fixated on coming up with the next big thing, the new great idea. In doing that, I lose sight of the fact tat the people that came up with the last great idea didn't do it on purpose. They found a new aspect of an existing problem that nobody noticed before, or they did notice, but were too afraid to openly acknowledge that it exists.
Dano then tells me that he is the "Exact same way". He wants to come up with something great and new, and he psyches himself into getting nothing done, and making nothing but shit along with it. He wonders why he can't just do things without thinking "How can I be completely original", and suggests that this is perhaps too lofty a goal to set yourself to.
It's a bit like a chinese finger trap. There's an element of selfishness in wanting to grab some small bit of glory for yourself. But in order to get there you have to completely forget that you want that. You have to convince yourself that you don't, and you're just out to solve a problem. You also have to accept that there's a very good chance that it won't turn out great, and not let yourself be dissapointed when it doesn't. Just figure out what went right, what went wrong, and move on.
The great solutions come out of honesty; honesty to the problem, honesty to yourself, honesty about the solution. Don't let cultural biases, or your ego get in the way of perceiving something about the problem. Don't succumb to the forces that tell you to ignore it, the forces inside you that want to be seen as good, and smart, and talented, and better. Instead listen to the littler voice inside you that says the emporer has no clothes.