Many times we come up with what we think is a clever idea only to abandon it later because we are convinced it is stupid. Whether the convincing comes from some negative feedback from someone we talk to, or from our own fears and doubt.
However, we need to stop listening to these negative voices. Too often we later hear or see a similar idea that has really taken off, only to think “I had that idea!” and then “If only…”.
Two blog posts touched on these topics recently, and I wanted to note them.
First from “McDonald’s Theory“:
The next time you have an idea rolling around in your head, find the courage to quiet your inner critic just long enough to get a piece of paper and a pen, then just start sketching it. “But I don’t have a long time for this!” you might think. Or, “The idea is probably stupid,” or, “Maybe I’ll go online and click around for—”
No. Shut up. Stop sabotaging yourself.
The same goes for groups of people at work. The next time a project is being discussed in its early stages, grab a marker, go to the board, and throw something up there. The idea will probably be stupid, but that’s good! McDonald’s Theory teaches us that it will trigger the group into action.
It takes a crazy kind of courage, of focus, of foolhardy perseverance to quiet all those doubts long enough to move forward. But it’s possible, you just have to start. Bust down that first barrier and just get things on the page. It’s not the kind of thing you can do in your head, you have to write something, sketch something, do something, and then revise off it.
Second, from “What A Stupid Idea“:
For some cruel reason, I keep finding myself in the position of being introduced to things in their infancy (often before they are even launched), dismissing them as stupid, and then watching them become unbelievably popular. This has happened to me at least four times. Each time I vow never to call anything stupid again, and then, invariably, it happens again.
Thinking back on those meetings with Ben Silbermann, the founder of Pinterest, and Dom Hoffman, the founder of Vine, I am kind of disgusted by my reactions. Both of those guys are unusually passionate and driven, and you can tell within five seconds of meeting them. They saw the future and they built it. But for some reason, my first reaction to their earliest attempts wasn’t to give them the benefit of the doubt–it was to immediately find problems and then dismiss their ideas.
The future is extremely hard to see through the lens of the present. It’s very easy to unconsciously dismiss the first versions of something as frivolous or useless. Or as stupid ideas.