You’ve had an idea. I promise you that it is doomed.
It’s a big and exciting idea, though. You’ve told your closest allies all about it.
But then, a year later, you’re in the same crappy job.
So what happened? Why are you such a loser?
Well, you’re NOT a loser. I promise you that. There’s just some things getting in your way.
1. Your idea’s doomed because you’re an addict
The fact is that great ideas are addictive. There’s an endorphin rush in the moment that the great idea is sized upon. Your brain is stimulated and you feel more alive for the first time in ages. This is the dragon you can end up chasing. Creativity is great in its own right, but the people it only serves 24-7 are folks like concept artists and architects – visionaries who are then asked to move onto the next big thing. But you and me? Chances are we have to roll up our sleeves after that and push the whole damn project through.
And there’s some more bad news, too.
The high you get from success is much weaker if you’re looking for a hit – it’s a general happiness. It pervades your whole life. It’s a wonderful thing but if you are addicted to the see-saw of hope and fail then you won’t see it, and you won’t appreciate it.
But normally it doesn’t get that far. When the initial joy of the idea wears off and you have to deliver, you miss the rush of being a visionary. You miss the treasurehouse of images, the hall of mirrors that was a dream of a better life. You want to live in that dream, not actually live out the reality.
2. Your idea is doomed because you have to venture out of your comfort zone
There’s nothing more stimulating than learning new things. But there’s nothing more stressful than having to learn new things whilst you are trying to keep everything else afloat.
There’s a reason why corporations send people away for training, rather than have it at work. But if you want to be more than a hamster in a work-wheel then you have to both grind at the job in hand and develop your new idea. Doesn’t matter if you’re at home – you still have to clean the damn thing.
And you have to add a steep learning curve to everything else you have on.
3. Your idea is doomed because of ‘other people’
People looking at you like you have two heads is a very real danger. The cacophony of emotions running through people’s features is a hard one to gauge when you tell them your plans. But you try anyway, because there’s nothing like some unhealthy mind-reading to get you by. Perhaps they think you have lost your mind, that you’re throwing it all away. Maybe you are, you think. Perhaps they think the idea sounds awful. Or, worse, perhaps you are not very good at explaining your idea to people – and if you can’t explain it to them, then who CAN you explain it to?
It’s even worse if they unwittingly sound critical of your new venture.
There’s often a cruel irony when – after you throw in the towel – that person months later asks you how it is going with your bright idea. They ask out of genuine interest. They never had a problem with what you were doing. Perhaps they were just processing what you had said.
And, yes, that one has happened to me.
4. Your idea is doomed because you might succeed and you’re scared
If there’s anything more toxic than the fear of failure it’s probably the fear of success.
Your brain’s emotional centres act up in a wide variety of ways, and at different times. All this depends on your upbringing and any major traumas you have suffered. In this book it is described as a chimp. It’s overpowering and you have to look at ways to placate or sidestep it.
When you don’t placate it, it will use it’s overriding powers to try and keep you safe and in shelter. So it will say stuff like “what if you forget who you are when you become popular” or “what if your wife meets some rich new business colleague and runs off with them?” or – the best one – “what if people realise you’re a fraud?” It’s wily and creative, this inner voice of panic. It means well but its ultimate objective is to hold you back with a fear that you cannot succeed because the price is too high.
5. Your idea is doomed because, well, it is doomed
Yes, that’s right. It will probably fail.
By which I mean that the idea you have whilst sat on your sofa is a pipe dream. If it was that easy then lots of people would be doing it. So you have a choice. 1) You can actually be flexible and adjust your your expectations to the market that there is for your idea. 2) You can remain inflexible, fail to explore new avenues and so not develop the initial impulse into something that is actually worthwhile.
That idea you have that gets you high on your own creativity is actually just step number one. You have to take that idea out there, and understand the terrain. It’s no good just forcing a half-thought-out idea into the world.
So, succeed or don’t succeed … one way or another that initial idea is not going to be the final product. It simply is not going to happen.
It. Is. Doomed.
But something better might emerge.