I have lots of creative ideas. I mean lots. You would be hard-pressed to talk to me over the course of an hour without me giving you at least one creative idea about whatever topic we’re talking about. And when I say idea, I don’t mean an opinion or interesting insight. I am talking about thinking of a new business plan or a way to reimagine something.
Here’s the thing though: not all ideas are created equally. Some are better than others, and some are just plain bad. It is easy to think that you’re not the creative type if so many of your ideas immediately appear to be worthless. You may think, “How could I be the next greatest creative genius if all of the ideas I have for a title for my next blog post stink?” However, every creative person knows that they have many more terrible ideas than they have brilliant, creative ideas. It’s the ability to recognize the difference, and the persistence to keep working to improve on the poor ideas that leads to the brilliant creative ideas that in turn leads to success.
Some people have the opposite problem. They think that all creative ideas that come to mind are worth a million dollars and should be taken as gospel. If you mention you have the smallest inconsequential problem in your life, they’re quick to tell you about this billion dollar business opportunity in keeping toothpaste on the toothbrush, and how you should drop everything and work on it. That’s probably not the best market to attack. My bet is that no one is crying themselves to sleep over it, but that doesn’t stop them from believing it.
Give yourself time to process and think through new creative ideas before acting on them. That doesn’t mean you should abandon them, though. People who abandon ideas before thinking through the various elements and possible applications are foolish. These are the people who look at the latest big invention and cry out, “I had that same idea last year!” They very well might have, but they didn’t give it the attention it deserved and someone else did.
Instead, take a few days to let it percolate, and see if that idea is in fact a great way to solve a problem or share your thoughts. If so, great! If not, see if you can build on it, or if you can change it to better fit the situation.
Whether it’s a new business idea or a new project at work, let yourself freely generate new and creative approaches. Not all of them will be great, or even good. In fact, some of them will be terrible. But the more creative ideas you come up with, the more likely you are to hit on something golden. And when that happens, don’t throw it away.