Thursday, October 14, 2010

Getting Started Pt I: Kill ideas carefully

Everything starts with an idea. Starbucks, Apple, Google, Facebook and countless other success stories were, at some point, just an idea. The reason they succeeded is that someone did something about them. Unfortunately most of us kill our ideas too quickly and for reasons that probably aren't that great.

In the past I'd get an idea, sometimes I might have even marveled at how great it was :-) and then, suddenly, with alarming speed, I'd come up with a truck load of reasons why it wouldn't work and I'd bury it. The reasons varied but it boiled down to this feeling of not being qualified to move forward. e.g. didn't have the skills, capital, time, experience, etc etc to "qualify" to take the next step.

And then one day it dawned on me that if someone else asked me to try and move a similar idea forward, perhaps as part of a work or school project, I'd almost certainly give it a shot. Qualified or not I would start moving! How crazy is that?! Throw in some deadlines and a hard to please client and I'm pretty sure I'd be working overtime to do my best. What changed? Why is it easier to act when it's someone else's idea?

In "Linchpin", Godin talks about a small part of our brain (the Amygdala, aka the lizard brain) that is basically obsessed with avoiding failure along with a lot of our other biggest fears. The bottom line is that most of us learn at a young age that failing is one of the worst things that can happen to us. In reality, it's probably not as bad as we think, but good luck trying to convince your Amygdala of that.

Is there a solution? What worked for me was convincing my lizard brain that not doing anything equals massive failure and I quickly noticed myself getting agitated every time I killed an idea without thinking about it first. Today, I give each idea serious consideration before I start wielding the axe. I still kill a lot of ideas, but I kill them carefully, who knows maybe the next one is going to be that winner I'm looking for :-)


Mary Ann said...

Inspiring... I do the same. Kill my own ideas. Not anymore!

Raj said...

It is kind of crazy when you think about it :-) I mean not every idea is a world beater or anything like that, but I think there are a lot of good ones out there and they get shelved anyway :-) My next post is going to be about one approach to try and evaluate ideas. Will keep you posted :-)

kitikat72 said...

Posting a blog however, is a good idea, one which you did NOT kill. A good idea b/c now your ideas get to be explored in a different space, not just in your head.
And who knows...perhaps the birth-place of your next Big Idea!!