Ideas are Not Enough: 3 Practices to Make Your Ideas Tangible
Do you have a lot of ideas? Do you pride yourself for your innovative thinking and creative way of thinking? Do you watch someone on TV talking about something and think to yourself that the idea isn’t that “new”, and wonder why they are even there talking about something you don’t think is that innovative or creative?
Karen often talks about her ideas for changing her life. She has a host of interests that spark creative ideas and she begins a new direction almost monthly.
Her first idea was to quit her job and become a yoga teacher offering yoga sessions inside large corporations. Her idea was to try and make yoga a regular practice for stress relief in companies during the lunch hour after she witnessed first-hand the amount of stress her partner and friends were experiencing in their corporate jobs.
When it was time to actually attend the 6-month long yoga teacher training and market her idea to companies she would work in however, she quickly lost interest in the idea and changed direction.
“It takes too long to get the certification and then convince companies to adapt this,” she rationalized. “And the market is flooded with this idea.”
Her next idea was to start a blog about blended families. Having come from a blended family as a child and marrying someone with three children that combined as a family with her own son, she felt that she had deep experience and good advice about how to make these families work. She was passionate about the topic and about what it took to make blended families successful. She visualized her blog becoming a go-to resource for people in blended families and talked about creating a companion resource book and website.
You can probably guess what happened next. As she began to test out a few blog posts with little response, she quickly threw her energy into a “new” idea.
“There are just so many blogs out there,” she lamented. She was moving on to her next idea–to create a women’s fitness bootcamp… and feeling frustrated about not being able to make significant traction with all her “ideas”.
Do you know a “Karen”? Are you Karen?
I can personally resonate with Karen’s dilemma, and talk to many people who could fit her description. When you have many interests, talents, and ideas, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the myriad of possibilities and options each of those ideas represent. While having a host of different interests makes us interesting and diverse, when we want to create something tangible in the world and maximize the impact the idea can have, there are three practices we must adapt as habits to make the idea materialize into action.
Having many interests and ideas is a marker of creativity. It spurs innovation and evolves the status quo forward. But too many ideas can actually have the opposite effect. They can leave us scattered and unfocused, and keep any idea from materializing into something tangible in the world. To maximize the impact of an idea, we must have a laser focus. Picking ONE thing to actually create and focus on is the first step to actually making it happen and taking it out of idea form in our heads to something that has impact in the world.
2. Execution Discipline
See someone who has materialized an idea into reality? Don’t brush it off as mere “good luck” or “good timing”. While those things certainly help, most people who have had success with an idea will talk about their relentless execution to make it happen. An idea without disciplined execution exists in the world of “forms”—as something formless without tangible traction. Taking the idea out of the formless world, and creating consistent, tangible actions that will move it into something useable by others is the real test of whether the idea will move forward and have impact or stay in your head.
3. Adjustment and Follow-through
Even if you get to the point of translating the idea into consistent actions that will move it forward, without consistent follow-through, the idea will die on the vine without ripening to its maximum impact. If Karen in my example above executed the start of her blog and quickly got discouraged at the lackluster response she received, the idea would quickly die out. Follow-through would include not only having a clear execution plan, but figuring out what else needs to happen if her actions aren’t bearing fruit. If you plant a tree, you water it, give it sunlight, and prune it, but find it doesn’t flower or bear fruit at the beginning—before you uproot it and give up, what must you do? Perhaps it needs a fertilizer, or you need to add a different mix to the soil. Follow-through involves not just persistence, but on-going adjustments to the execution plan to find what works and what doesn’t, without abandoning ship at the first signs of failure.
While being full of ideas allows us to imagine creative, new possibilities, it is also wasted potential if we don’t take the necessary steps to pluck one out and make it tangible and useable in the world.
As always, send me a note with your comments and experience materializing your ideas into reality. I love to hear all your wonderful stories…