What would the world look like today if Alexander Flemming didn’t let the realization that mold could fight off bacteria out of his head and make a commitment to help people? Or, Sir Tim Berners Lee let his fear of ridicule stop him from inventing the World Wide Web?
Similarly, what would your world look like tomorrow if you took action on an idea that has been lingering in the back of your mind? Would you have a position that’s important to the community? Would you be more fit and active? Would you have the promotion at work that you’ve been dreaming about? You CAN turn dreams into reality once you learn how to make a commitment and learn how to accomplish goals.
You’ll never know the answer to these questions if you are stuck in the Idea Stagnation Model. To begin answering these questions and to begin idea innovation you need to move into the Idea Growth Model. The goal of this practice is to get all ideas out of your head and get them visible to your eyes. The practice is simple. All ideas are written down, big and small. So many of our great ideas never make it out of our heads. We kill them automatically before they even have a chance to see the light of day or the support of anyone else. This not only kills the idea, but it can slowly crush your spirit and drain your energy.
Most of us never write things down regarding our ideas. The practice is simple, but if it was easy, all of us would be doing it, right? In order to make it simple and build your mastery of the practice, here are some steps to follow to anchor all of your ideas.
Step 1: Create Your Big Idea File
For step one, you will need to either have a physical journal, an electronic file on a PC, a notepad on your smartphone, or a voice recorder that someone can transcribe. The goal is to have your Big Idea file in a form that you can have with you at all times, save and add to it easily, and never lose it. For me, this is my notepad and voice recorder on my cell phone.
Step 2: Every time you have an idea, big or small, write it down
Take a pen or pencil, type, or use my favorite smartphone tool of voice to text and make a habit of writing down each idea you have as it occurs to you (or as soon as you can). Do not allow input from those little voices in your head telling you whether it’s good or bad. (I know you have them. We all do.) Don’t worry about punctuation or whether it makes sense. Just let it flow out of you like a river. There is no magic length, either. It can be one sentence or it can be pages. Just make a commitment to get it out of your mind and visible to your eyes.
Here are a couple of short examples:
Personal Idea: It would be really cool to do yoga twice a week.
Big Vision Idea: I want to go into politics and be governor of Texas.
Step 3: Schedule a weekly review of your ideas
Every week, take 15 minutes to review all the ideas you captured that week, and see which ones you want to move forward with. I love Sundays to complete this step, as we tend to be more creative and open on weekends.
When you first get started doing this, you will be amazed at how many good ideas you’ve had that week. You will also see how many ideas you have not realized, because in the past you’ve had no process to capture them.
Step 4: Pick the ideas you want to make happen. Refine your language.
Pick the ideas you want to make happen and write them powerfully. By powerfully, you should look for limiting-type words in the ideas you want to pursue, and take them out of the idea. The phrases ‘try to,’ ‘hope to,’ and ‘want to” are psychological tricks that give us a get-out-of-jail-free card from making the idea happen. There is no trying, hoping, or wanting to make an idea happen. You work on it, or you don’t.
So here are our idea examples from Step 3 in a more powerful revision:
Personal Idea: I do yoga two times per week.
Big Vision Idea: I run for political office by 2020.
Now read these ideas out loud. Do you see a shift in energy from the original idea? Now you have a foundation to move energy forward and turn dreams into reality.
You can see that our ideas hold life energy. Each idea draws us forward out of survival mentality and into a thriving state of being. But, if you don’t anchor the idea, it will fade quickly. You must master the practice of anchoring your ideas. Pull them out of your head and put the ideas in writing. Then, you can move forward and make your ideas happen.