What Makes a Good Idea?

Posted by Trevor on 28 August 2012 | Post a Comment

We all get innovative ideas at one point in time, and at first glance, a new idea always seems like the best thing since sliced bread. Unfortunately, there are often more bad ideas than good ones, and the trick is in knowing the difference. As for me, anything that makes my solar plexus do cartwheels counts as a good idea. If I get something in my head that gets me excited and makes me anxious to start, it is safe to say I should go forward. Your immediate emotions will tell you all you need to know.

The challenge with all ideas is that they are fleeting. Even the most exciting ones will quickly diminish if you do not respond to them. The secret to turning ideas into reality is in how you react. You must do something in the physical world to hook that idea to your life.

The greatest ideas occur in that “a-ha” moment, and you’ll be smacking yourself wondering why you didn’t think of it before. Eureka moments such as this happen all the time in regards to both small and big things in your life. Either way, once you get that feeling, it’s almost impossible to sit still and do nothing. But people often ignore what their heart is telling them, and procrastinate. Don’t. I find that I have to immediately make moves in that direction; I’ll make notes, write lists and just get it on my radar. Get it hooked into my life some way. A great idea must not be ignored, and you must react to it.

One of the best career ideas I ever had was when I started my first company, and it was such a profound moment that I still remember it as if it were yesterday. I was in the Minneapolis airport terminal at the bottom of an escalator when this idea came out of nowhere. It was a business plan, and in my head, I could see a diagram that I would later use in presentations regarding the success of the company. Rather than let this moment pass me by, I went straight into the bookstore and purchased a few books on small business best practices.

During this book search, I was attracted most by a little green book about the reasons why small companies fail. I read it on the flight home, and interestingly enough, I have never seen it since. I can’t even locate it on the Internet, as if this book never existed. Regardless, I knew I had a brilliant thought that just couldn’t wait and I had immediately reacted to it. Now I was hooked to it and it to me. I drew up the business plans on a napkin and put it in my back pocket to present to my wife later.

I was prepared to take my wife out to dinner to discuss plans for the company, but as soon as I walked through the door, she knew what I had in mind. We sat at the kitchen table and talked through the night about how we were going to make it work, and my company developed exactly as planned. It will be hard to miss that “a-ha” moment when it strikes. Once you know you’ve got a good idea, it is up to you to make it a reality by reacting to it.

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