I was recently at the gym when a friend, frustrated over something at work, announced that he was going to complain about the situation when he got to the office. When we encouraged him to share his frustrations with us, he instead launched into rapid-fire business ideas that could be potential solutions to his frustrations. His ideas and thought process piqued my interest instantly. Before I could build on what my friend had said, he talked himself out of every idea and left.

In that moment, an opportunity was missed. My friend’s ideas, although incomplete, could have been the start of something big. He never gave his ideas the chance to be developed, but those of us who remained at the gym had an energizing and fun morning further exploring his ideas. What my friend thought were simply complaints were really ideas. Ideas come from diverse sources, and when we learn to recognize them as such, we are presented with enormous opportunity.

Ideas come from everywhere. A moment of happiness, a desire or need, or a slew of complaints can all produce ideas. A joke out of thin air can transform into a serious conversation – and casual dialogue at the gym can result in a productive brain-sharing session. It often takes a fresh perspective to create an idea that can become a reality.

“Your best ideas, those eureka moments that turn the world upside down, seldom come when you’re juggling emails, rushing to meet the 5 P.M. deadline or straining to make your voice heard in a high-stress meeting. They come when you’re walking the dog, soaking in the bath or swinging in a hammock.” – Carl Honore

Ideas come from everyone. Whatever our origins, backgrounds, or skill sets, everyone has a story to tell. Different experiences result in new perspectives that wouldn’t be considered by someone else, and unique wants and needs inspire ideas and innovation. Always invite others into the creative process.

“As you navigate through the rest of your life, be open to collaboration. Other people and other people’s ideas are often better than your own. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.” – Amy Poehler

Ideas are like people. Ideas need time, oxygen, and love. If you dismiss an idea or talk yourself out of what could have been a moment of brilliance, you may lose an opportunity. An idea is not something that can be fleshed out in a few minutes. Ideas need your attention – and your patience.

“The creative process is not like a situation where you get struck by a single lightning bolt. You have ongoing discoveries, and there’s ongoing creative revelations. Yes, it’s really helpful to be marching toward a specific destination, but, along the way, you must allow yourself room for your ideas to blossom, take root, and grow.” – Carlton Cuse

Ideas are social. Ideas come to life in groups and sharing ideas with others – allowing others to build on the initial thought – is crucial. One person can enlighten another, until what began as a small thought has developed into an entire strategy. An idea needs a social setting to breathe life into it.

“Ideas are like pizza dough, made to be tossed around.” – Anna Quindlen

Ideas have life. Inspiration can strike in the most unlikely places. Many great ideas are simple musings until attention is paid to them, because isn’t clarity easier to find when you’re not staring at a blank page? The trick is to catch yourself in the moment of brilliance, rather than dismiss it – and then allow the idea to flourish.

“Often the difference between a successful man and a failure is not one’s better abilities or ideas, but the courage that one has to bet on his ideas, to take a calculated risk, and to act.” – Maxwell Maltz

The next time you have an idea, whether you’re at the gym, a coffee store, or on a train – don’t dismiss it. Bring it out for some fresh air, share it with others, and see how it grows.

Originally published at Business 2 Community