That Brilliant Idea

Colin Wright writes about getting great ideas out of our head and into the world in his book Considerations, and he hits on all of the roadblocks that  keep our ideas locked away in our imagination.  He addresses the fear we have with bringing our ideas out of our mind and into the world to understand why so many great ideas never materialize.  When I first read through his book I highlighted a section reading, “…scared that perhaps our secret gift for money-making/cancer-curing/potato-chip-flavoring isn’t a gift at all, but just our own arrogance convincing us that we’re something special, when we’re not.”  I highlighted this section because it shows how easily in our minds we can begin to over inflate ourselves thinking we are special and amazing even though we have not accomplished anything.  That is not to say that the only value and measure of our worth is in our accomplishments, but it takes a level of self awareness to see that we are not special simply for having good ideas, or simply because we like the way we think. What can make us great, standout, and feel a level of accomplishment is taking the ideas we have and building upon them. Once we get those ideas out into the world and start working to actualize our thoughts, the special magic flows.

 

Wright addresses why our brilliant ideas often times stay locked in our heads, “The problem with great ideas is that they feel very valuable, and as such are something we want to protect … Part of why we do this is that we’re very proud of ourselves when we have good ideas, part is that we don’t want a competitor equipped with full financial-backing to steal it before we’re ready to act, and part is that we’re scared.”  With my own ideas I have faced all of these challenges.  I am often afraid of acting on my ideas because they may require additional work for me and that I spend extra time focusing on creating my idea rather than lazy leisure activities.  The fear of extra work and difficult challenges is a fear that I have yet to truly confront and overcome, but it is one that I believe I can change with a certain amount of self-awareness.

 

Wright also addresses the idea that another person may steal our idea before it is ready, which makes many of us think that it is better not to discuss our idea with people.  This fallacy can be damaging because it limits our ability to find those who could help us. When we are afraid of telling others about our idea then we miss an opportunity to have someone connect us with other people who can help us, and we miss a chance to have another person’s perspective on our plan. What we may find when we tell as many people about our idea as possible is that there are holes in our plan that other innovators can help us bridge in creative ways.

 

Wright offers one other thought on ideas and why we lock them away in our mind. He believes that we are often too enamored with our idea to let others poke holes in our theories. He states, “…scared that the idea might not be as good as it seems in the variable-less vacuums of our brains.” In our own minds we cannot see the shortcomings of our ideas, or perhaps we just chose not to see the weaknesses of our thoughts. Locked away in our own mind, the idea is pristine and perfect, but once we begin to tell others about our plan it is in danger of being ripped open.  Successful entrepreneurs would tell us that having others challenge aspects of our ideas is a crucial part of success, but on an individual level this can seem to be too much of a threat.

 

Wright encourages us to overcome this anxiety and fear by looking for abundance. Expecting that we will have more great ideas, better opportunities, and more chances to work on ideas in the future can help us feel more comfortable as we begin to develop our ideas. Seeing the success or failure of any idea as a stepping stone makes it seem smaller, reducing the gravity of a potential failure.  If we can approach an idea as a chance to grow, knowing that we will have an abundance of opportunities to act on another ideas or fit in with an existing idea in the future, then we are not paralyzed by the fear of executing an idea.
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