So many people live their whole life in fear of failure, making a mistake, taking any risk and paralysed by ‘what if it doesn’t work’. Ands so they don’t try anything. The irony is, of course, it won’t work if you NEVER try it. But you never try it, in case it doesn’t work. I think creating and curating great ideas is a learnable skill; a practice that you get better at the more you practice. As soon as you tell yourself you aren’t creative and you can’t come up with ideas, you let yourself off the hook of the struggle, you avoid failure, and you make that your reality. It’s not that you can’t, it’s that you didn’t or you won’t.
Cultivating this skill will solve your problems faster, make you a higher value person of influence, make you more money, and build your confidence that you can survive and thrive no matter what life throws at you.
Encourage bad ideas (& don’t judge them)
You are likely to have more bad ideas than good ones. You don’t know if your good idea will be the 1st or the 50th idea you have, and often it is hidden between many bad ideas. So having good ideas is about have many bad ideas. It’s a game of numbers and volume. Many people fear making a mistake or being judged, don’t allow ideas to flow, and as such never have any good ones. Allow ideas to flow, and…
At the idea stage, do not judge ideas or the people who are supplying them. The stage for viability, critical analysis, testing, decision and action comes much later. But it never comes if you don’t have a good flow of ideas. They will flow more if you don’t judge yourself, the idea or other people, and the confidence will compound the flow. Often the best ideas are the craziest, so allow yourself to have some fun and chuck out some crazy ideas. Push yourself thorough lean spells as often your best ideas are hidden deep, otherwise you’d have had them already.
Test, test, test!
Don’t take ideas or yourself too seriously. Allow yourself to enjoy the process. Have fun and be playful. Watch and listen carefully and be present. You are an idea machine, you just need to follow any or all of these 11.5 steps and know that you can improve these with practice, like any practice.
Ideas are both a gift and a curse. Good ideas can change the world. They can improve your financial and personal life. They can get you through big problems and into new possibilities. But too many ideas can lead to overwhelm, confusion, frustration and the paradox of (too many) choice(s).
How do you know which ideas to implement, which to delay until a better time, and which to ditch completely?
Many creators, entrepreneurs and problem solvers are great at (lots of) ideas. This can also make them poor finishers. They can love the start and hate the grind. They can get excited and then get bored quickly. This meets a need for variety but also creates stop-start-stop-start and never quite finish. Your time is your most valuable asset, so invest it in any idea wisely and ruthlessly.
Could it be good idea, but the wrong TIMING?
Often good ideas are badly times and as such bad ideas. You can be too early for an idea, or too late, or with the wrong people, or at the wrong time for all you have going on. Assess the timing as well as the idea. You can always delay, which means you don’t kill the idea. You can always say ‘Yes, but not right now’, and revisit at a better time for you or the market.
Seek out those who have succeeded in the area you are moving into, and get their wisdom, experience and counsel. Many people say ‘learn from your mistakes’, I say ‘learn from the mistakes of others’. It’s good to get the idea out of your head and bounced off other people. They will look at it in a way that may not have occurred to you. There is such a thing as too many mentors so don’t use this as an excuse to procrastinate.
What if – is a useful emotion, it stops you being reckless (just don’t let it RULE you)
If you never thought ‘what if’, you’d make really dangerous decisions and likely kill yourself, even if only financially or vocationally. So don’t deny it, just manage it. See how it serves you. See that it is feedback that you are growing. Every master was once a disaster.
What have you got to loose?
It is wise to maintain balance and perspective. If you are asking yourself ‘what if it doesn’t work’? then you should ask yourself ‘but what if it DOES work’? If you are asking yourself ‘what if I fail’ – then you should also ask yourself ‘but what if I succeed’? Extreme emotions are dangerous for progress. So in any new or unknown venture, like starting your own business and quitting your job, for example, look at:
a. Worst case
Likely you’ll have to go back to a job. At worse you might have to take a 20% payout. You may be a little humbled. But you aren’t likely going to die of rabies. And at least you tried to answer the calling, and now have more clarity on what you should be doing. It’s better to regret something you have done, thank something you haven’t, though you likely won’t regret most things you try, because at least you will know, even if it didn’t go your way.
b. Likely case
You’ll probably make some mistakes. It may take longer than you thought or be a struggle at times. But if you keep going, you’ll get better and in time you’ll get good. You earn or you learn, you keep going and you keep growing.
c. Best case
Who knows? You could gain freedom, choice and profit. You could make millions and make a difference. You could be a wild success and leave a vast and lasting legacy? Who knows? Well, you’ll never know unless you try.
Test small & low risk
If in doubt, test. You may never know until you create a small, safe environment to test the idea. Gerald Ratner, who I interviewed on my podcast, ran ads selling gym memberships BEFORE he bought the gym. Once he had proof of the demand, he was confident to buy the building. You can test ideas by asking potential and existing customers about your new products and services before you spend ages building something that has little or no demand.
You can save these questions in a folder. Each time you get overwhelmed, have the paradox of too many choices, or just need to stress test an idea, go though this quick set of questions. You don’t need to tick every box, just enough of them to hit the button and execute the idea into income or outcome.
And remember: If you don’t risk anything, you risk EVERYTHING!