Don’t get any ideas!

I have an idea.

Ideas are dangerous, and we get very mixed messages about them.


All of us have ideas. Some should be pursued, others should not; many just need refining. Often we decide that an idea is impossible to achieve before we have even registered its presence. Before we have felt out the contours of the idea or spoken about it to anyone. Before we can grasp it, it fizzles out: because it was genuinely not realisable, or because of our fear.

If we believe in an idea enough to speak about it with someone, sharing it with supportive people provides validation for the idea and we feel propelled forwards. The problem is that, if we rely on external validation for the idea, negative responses can make us feel shot down and increase the chances that we’ll give up. Though it didn’t shake my resolve, I experienced something of this sort recently.


So, how to share an idea and with whom? I’ve heard wisdom that we should share them with those who will help them grow and provide good advice, rather than just sharing for the purposes of validation. Those whose ideas are successful tend to have a strong inner conviction about the validity of their own idea rather than requiring this from others. And even with good advice, Sean Kim (founder of Rype) reflects that, whenever he followed advice over his instincts, it was a mistake.

It seems that instinct comes first; and anything gained from sharing with others comes second. Of course, it is not only mentors and successful people with whom we need to share our ideas: it is also potential beneficiaries of the idea. These could be all sorts of individuals, including people who communicate in an unhelpful way, for example who are competitive or negative. They can’t be ignored, and they might help push you to build a compelling and wide-reaching story. 

The important point is that you are not seeking ‘validation’ from either group of people. My recent error was expecting validation and support from someone I knew was unlikely to offer that. It remains important not to let others’ responses shake your inner conviction; whether you are sharing for advice from someone successful, or getting the opinion of a potential user. Instinct always knows best, and if your idea comes genuinely from your own heart and life experience, instinct will carry you to the right place.



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