Champion ideas

The hardest part of creativity and coming up with ideas is the next step: finding a way to bring ideas to life. Whenever you got a big idea, they feel unlikely, risky and counterintuitive. Somebody needs to be the one carrying the torch.

If you have an idea that you genuinely think is good, don’t let some idiot talk you out of it. Now that doesn’t mean that every wild notion you come up with is gonna be genius. But if there is something that you feel is good, something you want to do, something that means something to you, try to do it. 

Stan Lee

What to do when championing ideas

First of all, the goal of bringing an idea to life is all about learning. As soon as success is your most significant driver, your risk appetite will disappear and learning drops to zero. Whenever you focus on learning or simply the joy of doing it, championing becomes easier

Also, avoid groups. Don’t avoid groups to collaborate, though avoid groups when validating your ideas. A few studies show that groups tend to agree with the majority opinion, even when wrong. If your idea feels unlikely, don’t spend your energy on the people that need convincing. Invest it into those who are already interested.

The difficulty lies, not in the new ideas, but in escaping from the old ones, which ramify, for those brought up as most of us have been, into every corner of our minds.

John Maynard Keynes

Try out the cornerstones of your ideas. The more you experiment, the less you become constrained by old ideas. The less you have constraints. The wider the imagination becomes, the more likely it will become to bring your ‘unlikely’ idea to life.

It is leadership

Ideas cannot win on their own. They need a voice. They need a hearing. Above all, they must be backed by people willing to live by them.

Bari Weiss

Championing ideas is leadership. You do not have to be a “leader” in a matrix organisation to do it, but you need to be a leader for your idea. Your actions will create a ripple effect around you and might inspire others to bring great ideas forward.

Leadership drives excellent ideas forward and opens the door for innovation. Groupthink and consensus are the anti-conception for ideas and innovation.

There is beauty in small numbers

What does success look like when you create content online? Are more views better? Do you need a minimum amount of likes before a piece of content is good? Or, when it comes to presenting an idea at your workplace: does everybody needs to like and share their praise with you?

No. It is up to you what success looks like. Bigger is not better. The focus on bigger can distract you from focusing on the essential things that produce success in the first place.

Without creation no views

The essential part is that you produce. Since when you put nothing out there, there is no success possible. However, if you only get two views, is that good? That is entirely up to you. I am already happy with less than a handful of likes of a post on LinkedIn. I can be pleased about that because there are always at minimum 1 or 2 people that I value a lot. Mission accomplished.

Are big numbers in your control?

For most of us, getting many feedback, likes, and views is often a combination of many happy accidents. It is not something we can do consistently because we lack audience numbers. If it is hard to do is consistent, there is a risk it will be a demotivator and will shut down your creative pursuit. It doesn’t imply you should not aim for the stars and not be ambitious. You should, though, focus on the essential elements of success. Getting ten or a thousand views or a million views is not that different if you have no clue who is viewing and if they appreciate the content.

Relevance over volume

Getting a few likes or views from people I care deeply about is more valuable for me than having tens of thousands of views from strangers. It feels good to have a significant number next to your name, though does it matter?

I chose for myself that just a few likes, views, and interactions from people I value are good enough. The other 999.998 views are just an excellent bonus.

Be kind to yourself when setting goals. Be ambitious. However, focus on the essential elements of your success within your control and grow these. Everything else is a bonus.

Inspire 1 or 2 people in good way. You inspire the world.

Nirmal Purja
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Open up for creativity

Creativity is more about being not embarrassed than having great ideas. Creativity for me is starting somewhere, and from there, it flows, and you need to let it flow. You do not know what will come out and where you will end up. The more ideas you can produce, the higher the chance some are highly useful.

Embarrassment is a learned disease. It can be cured. It’s about willingness to fail. We prescribe so much and say things like, ‘‘Creativity opens you up to brand-new worlds.’’ It doesn’t open anything up to brand-new worlds. You don’t know what it opens you up to. It’s not a line from A to B. It’s a line from A to strawberry pizza. 

Mo Willems

Practical tips to open up

It is always easy to say about anything you need to let go, trust the process and do it. Here are three simple tips on how to open up more for creativity:

1. Go for volume

The odds of producing an influential or successful idea are a positive function of the total number of ideas generated.

Dean Simonton

More ideas are better. There is, in this stage, no need to focus on quality. Quantity is the most predictable path to quality. Therefore push yourself to generate as much as possible to increase your chances of success later.

2. Invert

Invert. Always Invert.

Carl Jacobi

The best way to gain clarity about a problem is to address it backwards. Either by starting at the end or by making it worse first. Especially when you make it worse, you can then invert it again and make it better.

3. Begin, let others finish it

Stop halfway (or at a third or a quarter) of an idea and give it to somebody else so they can build upon it and finish it. It might not end up as the idea you had expected, though most likely, the outcome was not expected by anyone. Do this a few times and mix ideas to come to a new one.

Of course, there are plenty of other methods to stimulate your creativity. The most important thing to remember is that when you feel you cannot create any more ideas, that is where the natural creativity begins, and you generate the value.

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Don’t ask questions

You should not ask questions if it matters what the answer is. We are taught early on that asking questions is a great way to learn new things and to progress and it is true. However, if you make your questions too open, you might end up somewhere you do not want to go. Do not open for questions just to be polite and have other’s people voices heard, open up for questions when there is a real need to get answers.

Imagine you did an outstanding presentation to a group of people on how you think you should approach a specific project. And to be kind and inclusive, you decide to ask the question:

So, what should we do next?

You put your fate and that of the project in the goodwill of the people. Since they can now define what will happen next since you asked them, you might have a preference, but that preference is now almost off the table since you asked them what to do next. If the answer is not what you expected, you need to juggle a lot to get it to your original preference.

If you want to narrow it down, you, of course, close some options and ask

Out of options A, B and C, what do you think is the one to pick?

And there you are again, putting your fate into the hands of others. Not as horrible as the previous question, now at least you know the options, but you probably do not love options A, B and C equally. If your group goes for option A and you wanted option C, well, start your stakeholder management already to get where you originally wanted to be.

If you care a lot about the answer, do not give people the option to change it. If instead of your question, you will tell them:

These are the five next steps and this is your role I see.

What happens is that you might have a conversation on the direction, and you might also get some suggestions in case they would change something. However, it is still all in your hands, and you can decide what happens next. Hint: intelligent people always listen, even when they think they are right.

Summary

Don’t ask questions if you have a strong feeling about the answer. Ask questions when you either do not care what the answer should be or/and when you need others to provide input and impact what happens next based on their response.

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Trust your ideas (but still kill them)

Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.

David Allen

This quote is the core of the “Getting Things Done” (GTD) work-life management system. And the suggestion is to put the ideas you have on lists. Such lists give you a clear mind, and you can follow up on your thoughts whenever you are ready.

However, there is a caveat to putting everything in lists and leaving it there. Such lists are often giving you the hope that your idea was good. Since you captured it, it exists, and because it exists, it probably is good. If these ideas were so extremely significant, you would be working on them right now. You might say: “But I cannot work on everything right now”. No, therefore, you choose to work on better ideas.

Kill your darlings

Maybe when you are not working on your better ideas, you are making not the right decisions. To know whether you are working on the right ideas, the Review in GTD plays such an important role. Making lists is one thing. To get the list clean, clear, and current is of equal importance.

Having those items in the list produces shame that you are not working on them. And of course, you will promise that you will work on those ideas next time.

Conviction in our ideas is dangerous not only because it leaves us vulnerable to false positives, but also because it stops us from generating the requisite variety to reach our creative potential.

Adam Grant

If you cling to ideas and keep them on your list forever, you are not helping yourself. Be ruthless when reviewing your lists.

The Canary in Coal Mine

Your recurring ideas are a canary in the coal mine. Either you are prioritizing the wrong ideas to work on, or you are too invested in ideas that are not important. Either way, you need to revisit this, determine the root cause, and see what this canary tells you (sometimes, you need to say to the canary, “shut up” because it is not the idea to work on at all).

Good ideas resurface. Important ideas do not resurface. They are always there. Ideas are cheap. Throwing one away does not cost you anything.

The ones that survive and bring value are either the good ones or the ones that are too important to ignore. Trust your review process to find the ones you should be working on and make it happen.

Easy choices, hard life. Hard choices, easy life.

Jerzy Gregorek
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Sometimes an idea should just not suck

Knowing what an idea should not be, is, in many cases, easier and more practical than figuring out what the perfect idea would be. Especially since what is the end of perfection, what type of perfection is good enough?

Moving forward with ideas is all about knowing what is good enough. And to establish your level of acceptance of good enough, it is sometimes the easiest to define what you want to stay away from.

It is remarkable how much long-term advantage people like us have gotten by trying to be consistently not stupid, instead of trying to be very intelligent.

Charlie Munger

It might be obvious, but not being stupid is a viable strategy. Like chess, grandmasters often win by not losing, and an easy way to get rich is not to go bankrupt (when others do). Figure out what makes your idea not stupid, and you are halfway there.

Are the actions you need to do to bring your idea to life reversible? Move forward full speed. If it doesn’t work, you can go back and choose a different path or different view. If the actions are irreversible, consider making your idea smaller into reversible chunks so you can experiment care-free.

Most notably with every idea: get real. The issue is not having a list of ideas. It is about having good ideas. Go out and test your ideas in reality. If it doesn’t work: find a new concept to work on. The best way to come to high-quality ideas is by having a lot of them and getting them in touch with reality.

Choose quantity over quality.

Not stupid over being intelligent.

Finally: take action. The more you practice, the more you learn, the closer you reach your goal.

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Do not worry about being original. Produce and change the world

There was a moment I could not bring myself to write anything for years. The main reason was that I saw an immense amount of repetition of content, and I saw too many people claiming success that was not theirs.

That was nobody’s fault or problem. I was using the wrong lens to look at the world.

This is not about me not writing. It is about all of us who censor ourselves (in work, in private, in things we love to do) because we do not like the world (or company, hobby club, or department) we see and do not want to be like “those other people”.

Using the wrong lens

It is because of how we look at the world, not how it really is. Do not blame people for being successful with something you do not like. Learn how they did it and use it to change the world.

My problem was that I wanted to see original content. I did not realize that originality is not the Internet’s critical problem. It is the distribution of ideas. Ideas are not distributed to everyone at the same time.

How you can overcome this

Everything has already been done. every story has been told every scene has been shot. it’s our job to do it one better.

Stanley Kubrick

Originality is not dead. There is plenty to be original at. Though there is a chance what you do has been done before. So what. It doesn’t hold anybody else back and to be successful with it. Why would you? You know you can bring in something new, something different, more complete, a different angle, or anything. At least, you can have an idea that represents you and your viewpoints.

It is about producing not viewing

Don’t let your view of the world limit yourself. You can always push higher standards on yourself and be the person you want to see. If you are not producing any content, the world remains the same, and you are just sitting there with your high standards.

If you do not like the world you see: participate in it and change it. Pointing fingers at the sideline that it is wrong doesn’t help.

The way to come to power is not always to merely challenge the Establishment, but first, make a place in it and then challenge and double-cross the Establishment.

Francis Ford Coppola

Produce, go out there. It would help if you did it for yourself. You deserve it. You will see: many other people need what you are producing and have been waiting for it all along. If you are not producing, you are not thriving, and you definitely are not changing anything.

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