You’re busting to share an idea that woke you up at 3 am. As you excitedly share your dream, you feel an uncomfortable silence growing between you, a family member, friend, or colleague.
In an instant someone can kibosh an idea.
In the early stages of a project—the ideation stage—seedlings are vulnerable, so you'll want to surround yourself with positive energy and the support of other creatives.
We all have "seed gardeners" in our lives, although they're easily overlooked. They're well-versed in nurturing ideas, and they know how to listen while withholding judgement as we give voice to ideas outside of our own brain.
When you’re ready for them to further engage, your seed gardeners are there to help you explore the possibilities of an idea and maybe introduce you to people who can help you take your idea to the next stage.
So whether you’re thinking of starting a side business or thinking of ways for solving problems at work, you need to remain vigilant at the seed stage so that you’re not introducing control too early in the creative process.
Control, however, does have a way of disguising itself.
Standards, Best Practices, and Metrics
You might not think of Standards, Best Practices, and Metrics as forms of control. These are about quality and measurements—right? Yes, they are, and they certainly have a place in operational excellence. However, introducing the concept of comparisons at the ideation stage where you compare your idea to a higher standard or something considered to be the best of the best, the faster your fear of achieving anything equally impressive kicks in and insecurity rears its ugly head. You run the risk of shutting down the creative process altogether.
Thinking or worrying about where the money will come from before getting your idea off the ground can squash the flow of ideas and shut down the creative process. Although your financial liaison at work can be a great asset to you in later stages, avoid grabbing a quick cup of coffee with your analyst too early in the process. You may eventually want to tap family members and friends for crowdsource funding, and so you'll want to keep them informed and engaged down the road, but at the ideation stage you'll want to focus on fleshing out your idea with your seed gardeners.
It will come as no surprise to many of you that family members have the potential to squash your seedling ideas--in an instant. One of my coaching clients took three sessions before she was ready to share her "real" reinvention goal after her family pooh-poohed her big idea (BTW: she exceeded her goal). Following close on the heels of family responsibilities is the “What about me?”, whereby close friends drown the seed of your idea in an effort to keep you from moving forward with your dream and leaving them behind. Don't overlook guilt. It's a powerful emotion and an equally powerful motivator to remain where you're at.
By looking at all the things that could go wrong with your idea the sooner you’ll doom it to the garden slush pile where it gets buried along with other potential innovations. Unfortunately, too much early control often leads to self-doubt, procrastination, and a creative seedling that dies before it's had a chance to take root.
So much in life is about timing. The great news is that you do have control about the timing of when you share your ideas and who you share them with.
Make them work for you.
Photo credit: Christine Erikson via Mother Earth News
Photo credit: New Life Beginings