It’s been said that ideas are sparks that can set the world afire one heart at a time. The world is awash with ideas, but relatively few ideas get to the roaring fire stage.
As a Boy Scout, I was obsessed with being able to start a fire without matches. I became proficient with hand-whittled bow drills to create hot embers by friction. I once started a fire with a lens I created from ice during a winter camping outing. I learned how to find flint stones to use with my knife to produce sparks. My first choice is a small ferromagnesium rod and striker because it’s fast and reliable.
Producing a hot ember from friction or generating sparks from flint and steel is relatively easy. The true secret is in the tinder. You can hurl a thousand sparks at a log or wet grasses, but never start a fire. If your tinder is dry, then even a small spark can start a bonfire.
It’s possible to find and create dry tinder even in a rainstorm. I learned how to find dry tinder even in a rainstorm, such as the small dead limbs sticking out from tree trunks but relatively sheltered. I practiced carving “feather sticks” that would surge into a larger flame from just a small ember. All this is an investment of energy in the tinder in order to create a successful fire.
The leadership lesson is simple: Your ideas will produce useful heat and energy if you share them in a good tinder environment.
It may be that you don’t have enough ideas, or a critically useful idea. It’s more likely you have a wet tinder problem. My observation from many leaders at all levels of organizations is that we have plenty of ideas, but aren’t investing those ideas in receptive tinder.
Find people who are primed to receive your ideas as sparks. If they don’t exist, work on preparing the tinder so they are receptive.