Have you ever said something like this to a friend…

“Okay – I have this idea. Here’s the deal…

[You then spend a good three minutes explaining your idea for a direction you want to go in – or a business you want to start – and then you finish the whole thing off by asking,]

“…Is that a good idea? Or am I just, like, COMPLETELY insane, totally freakin’ NUTS?”

So, let’s talk about this little habit for a moment, okay?

Here’s why.

Because #1: The IDEA is not the problem.

And #2: YOU are! 🙂

If you recognize yourself in that above example, it’s okay.  But I want you to understand the REAL ISSUE.

The real issue is not about the idea. The real issue is about DOING IT.  And the even realer issue is about fear.  As Seth Godin so aptly states:  “There isn’t a shortage of ideas. There’s a shortage of execution.”

So here’s a few simple ways to begin creating unwavering faith behind your ideas – so you can (gasp!) DO something about them.

1.   Consider HOW you share your ideas.

Okay – let’s just SAY that you’re sharing your idea with a friend. And let’s just say that you do it with the self-deprecating “finisher.”  (ie, “…or am I just an idiot”, “…or is that the stupidest thing you’ve ever heard?”, “…or does that idea just totally suck?”)

I call this the “smoke and mirrors” approach to sharing an idea. The share-ee, rather than getting to jump in and help you with your idea – now has to deal with the QUESTION you’ve presented – which is dramatic, self-defacing, and has absolutely nothing at all to do with your idea.

Imagine you’re sitting in front of Donald Trump, and he’s considering investing in your idea, your business, or your art.  Would he even give you a second of his time if you closed with one of your self-deprecating questions?

No way!

Your friend has the same dilemma.

When it comes right down to it, people read your energy MORE THAN they absorb your idea.  If your energy is all over the place, it’ll be hard for them to take your idea seriously.

2 – “Procrastination-by-Inquiry.”

One night I caught an MTV video with a cool-dude electric guitar player surrounded by women clad in nothing but plastic thongs.  It gave me an idea for a song.

Rather than pick up my guitar and begin writing, I did the next best thing.  I waited!

Then I waited some more!

Then I called my friend Kathy. I explained about the video and about my idea for the song – and then began a long litany of reasons my idea was so boring, and did she think it was a stupid idea, and should I just give up on everything in my life?

After a long pause, Kathy said, “I’ll tell you what Christine.  You write the song. Then we’ll decide if it’s good.”

Face it.  There’s absolutely NO way to know if an idea is going to be “a good idea.”  In fact, there’s at least 10 good reasons it’s NOT going to work. Asking people about your idea is often just “Procrastination-by-Inquiry.”  You aren’t going to know if it’s good until you start DOING something about it.

(By the way, that song I mentioned became my most requested song ever.)

3 – Be careful WHO you share your idea with

I’m guessing there’s probably about five people in your life with one common trait:

They’re the WORST people you could EVER share a new idea with. They’ll trample all over it.  They’ll tell you it’s a terrible idea – and yes you ARE, in fact, insane.

So, then, why are we compelled to share our ideas with these five folks?

Well, the truth is: they provide an amazing service.  In fact, we secretly LOVE these people and how they trash our ideas with bone-chilling sarcasm.

Why?

Because then we never have to do anything about them!  We don’t have to take action.  After all, if Uncle Richie says that your idea for a vegetarian catering service stinks – then hey, good news! You don’t have to face your fears!  Now you get to head home and dive headlong into a bag of Cheeto’s and watch reruns of The Biggest Loser on the Lifestyle channel! Woohoo!

Do yourself a favor.  For the sake of your spirit and your ability to take action – be mindful of who gets to hear about ANY of your ideas.

4 –  The most crucial question of all.

Here’s a question that will end all questioning, all excuses, and will make you the most productive kid on your block.

“What is the very next step I need to take?”

When I knew I wanted to be a songwriter, I bought a new guitar.  Then I signed up for lessons. Then I’d sit in my Georgetown apartment and learn riffs while a  metronome ticked along in the background.

At no time, during the implementing of these steps could anyone say to me: “Are you INSANE?? You’re playing SCALES?  Have you LOST YOUR MIND?”

No. Because I was simply taking the next step.

Here’s a secret I’ve learned about execution:

Getting an idea is step one.  The rest of the steps are all about tricking your ego into shutting up so you can get stuff done. The ego would prefer it if you’d just continue getting big ideas.  The ego LOVES your big ideas because then it can reach into its arsenal of big fears, big dramas and big emotional hooks – and it can MATCH your big idea. Tit for tat.

The ego doesn’t have much to say when you sit down and do some work for 30 minutes. That’s not nearly dramatic enough.

So, what’s the next step you need to take?

5 – Give it Legs.

It is said that the most successful people make decisions quickly.

Even if that doesn’t apply to every single decision, it makes perfect sense.  Many of us let our emotions, our hooks, and our drama become the perfect excuse for procrastination and fear.

Wanna know the exactly how to have faith in your idea?  Decide to do it.

Decision gives legs to intentions.

Make a decision. Tell someone you’re going to do it.  Move forward. Then wake up tomorrow and decide again.

Anytime your faith wavers, decide again.

Anytime it wavers after that, decide again.

Repeat until successful.

30 COMMENTS ADD A COMMENT
  • Kaylee

    What an important point! I can’t count the number of times I’ve done that – told someone about an idea, only to end it with, “but we’ll see,” or “I don’t know, it’s just an idea.”

    It’s tough to leave those out, but sooo important! If I don’t have faith in my ideas, who will? Thanks for another great post Christine, I just love your site!

  • Stacey

    Ouch! Spotlight on my guilt, my fear. No problem generating decisive “out of the box” solutions confidently and agressively for someone else’s bottom line. Glaring at me now is how reserved I am without the “safe” guaranteed paid cheque or having to incur the expenses myself. Sharing my ideas for my own business with a flavour of “or am I just and idiot?” inquiry. Believing I was searching for those that would be real and provide “the hard truth” – I didn’t REALLY want approval. I’ve simply been a fraidy-butt.

    Contrarily, a few minutes speaking with someone this past Friday, I am now poised to take action. Encouraged, motivated by their authentic approach to life and congruence with what I know to be true, I felt an undeniable connection. It DOES really matter with whom you choose to share. (I’ll thank that individual in November, when I meet her in person …;-)

    Oh, and BTW, I had to “laugh out loud” when I took the tangent link to your song “No such thing as girls like that”. You are truly a rare find! Nameste.

  • wheatgrass lover

    what a great and inspiring article – thank you!

  • Brenda K

    Such an a-propos post, Christine, and nice to “meet” you online! Interesting dissection of this very common self sabotaging habit, and good point about the ego quelling effect of “shutting up and just doing it” without seeking outside confirmation. In fact, just today I was thinking to myself that if I want my feelings and thoughts respected and other people to stop sucking my energy and manipulating me, then I should stop leaking information like a broken dam.

    I love the mantra, “Give it legs” – thanks!!

  • Christine Kane

    A big huge thank you and “you go girl!” to each of you! I thought i would be able to respond sooner – but had a bout of food poisoning to contend with! Anyway – thanks for all the additional thoughts, advice, even disagreements. a GREAT conversation to read!

  • Megan

    Thanks, Christine. You’ve inspired me to start my own blog. If you get a chance, check it out: http://figuringouthome.wordpress.com/2010/08/08/holy-pottery/

  • Sam

    Christine, thank you so much for this, I totally needed it. I have the idea and I know I want to run with it, but I am letting the discouraging people in my life get me down. I have one friend who has encouraged me from the first time I told her about my idea (and, rather than asking if I was crazy, told her to tell me I wasn’t) and from now on I will let her encouragement and my own passion for this idea carry me forward and leave all those “discouragers” in the dust.

  • Kelly

    What if one of the people that tends to shoot down your ideas is your husband? He wants me to be happy yet generally thinks I should just be thankful that I have a “good job”, not pursue something “risky”. I’ve been told (by someone that is a definite cheerleader of big ideas) that I should work out a plan-in detail-explaining how I would be able to do what I want and we could still manage financially and otherwise, then present it to him. I guess it would be kind of like @Sue Mitchell and @Christina – keep it on the down low while I plug away.

    Regardless, I have to get out of the idea stage and move on to the execution stage. I’m not getting anywhere with just lots of ideas!

  • paraluman

    thank you so much for this post christine! i truly agree with it….and what i have seen for my own life is that, i never run out of new ideas and then i will feel the excitement and everything and then…i dont do anything about it or procrastinate or talk myself out of it. i really need the legs that you described…its something i really need to develop because now I totally know what I want…but its the action that i am lacking. always looking forward to your posts! Namaste!

  • Sue

    Deciding WHO to share ideas with has been huge for me. (Which you taught me well.) I choose those people very consciously now, and I did not in the past. Thanks for all of this. Needed it!!!

  • Lee

    Hi Christine
    Thanks for this article, it says it all about times when i have had so many ideas, asked so many people for their opinions, shared my ideas with others and ended up putting not one brush to a canvas, etc. I generally don’t share now till I have something tangible to show because I have had the problem of people taking my idea and making it their own before I have had the chance to do anything about it. Now I just try and do a bit of creative work every day working step by step towards an idea. It keeps me in the creative mind space. I know on those days when I feel uncertain about an idea, I will read your article again and get my butt into gear.
    Thanks
    Lee

  • Becky Hunter

    Thanks for this Christine… This past year has been great for me in terms of learning to put some confidence and action behind my ideas. I have a question though: when you have, say, 5 ideas, and they all seem very appealing and exciting, how do you know which one or two to put your action into? You’re so right that there’s no shortage of ideas… but how do we make the selections? Is it down to intuition?

  • amypalko

    Yes yes yes!!! Love this post, Christine. It was exactly what I needed to read right now. Have started on a new big project which I’m keeping quiet about at the moment – waiting till it’s ready to be shared. Quite a different experience for me as I normally tell everyone and then lose interest before it’s complete! With this new project, I’m making the decision each day to do the work, to complete that next step. I’ve only told a few people and even then only in v. vague terms. And so far, it’s been working. I have some momentum, and I can see progress which, in turn, inspires me to do more. If I can complete this, then there’ll be no stopping me 😉
    Amy
    xx

  • Wayfaring Wanderer

    “Anytime your faith wavers, decide again.
    Anytime it wavers after that, decide again.
    Repeat until successful.”

    I absolutely love this! Sometimes I forget that it’s all a part of the process. That if it’s really worth obtaining in the first place you’ll definitely encounter some bumps along the way. Constantly resolving to keep going forward despite the setbacks isn’t always easy, but it’s the only way.

    I’m in the process of trying to regain focus right now. This article just reaffirms my mindset. Thank you 😀

    ~WW

  • Lorie

    Decision gives legs to intentions…

    Perfect- this is the best advice I have ever heard. Thank you again for your timely posts!! Now I can start my baby steps in the direction I want to go.

  • elaine

    Thanks for this – just what I needed to hear right now – perfect!

  • Mary Joy @Seeds of Encouragement Sewn with Grace

    Oh wow!!! Christine thank you so much for sharing this article!!!! I am taking the steps to make my idea a reality…no more second guessing…just trusting God and going for it!!!! So needed to hear this today!!!

    By the way…just tweeted this and shared it on my Blog Facebook Page…Thanks for all of your encouragement!!!

  • LynnH

    Picking safe, true supporters is part of the picture, too. I have a young friend with a dream which would take her out of the US. She shared this with her father. He was not the right one for support. He maybe *should* support her unconditionally but he just can’t. I told her to call me any time. Even if we don’t ask “am I crazy?” we can get discouraging input if we go to unsafe folks for feedback. I find it essential to find other self-employed folks as point people. My best friends are female entrepreneurs.

  • Cristina

    I’m a bit like Sue when it comes to ideas – at first I keep them to myself, because sometimes they’re just too fragile, and talking about them could destroy them. An idea is a seed, and needs to be nurtured. And then, as you say, we need to take action, in small steps – to fool the ego 🙂
    I never talk about my ideas with negative people, only with supporting and positive people. Thanks for the post, very helpful – as usual 🙂

  • Lee Ann

    Well, here’s an idea. Maybe I’m just being disingenuous, but whenever I have said a thing like that, I have said it to someone whose feelings I cared about, like in your introductory example. It generally isn’t because I don’t have faith in my idea, it has been more a way of giving them a way to say they disagree with me and be honest without fear of tearing me up. If they think I have a doubt, they will feel better about saying so if they do. If I bluster in with crazy enthusiasm and they think I’m misguided, there’s a good chance they won’t tell me because they’re afraid they’ll hurt my feelings. I don’t need advice from anyone who is going along with my idea because they’re afraid not to……I want them to be honest.

  • Sue Mitchell

    Fantastic post! You’ve covered so many bases here.

    I actually have a different but related problem when I have ideas. I don’t trust other people with them. I don’t want to tell anyone my idea because I’m afraid they’ll think it’s stupid–and therefore, I’m stupid. So I start taking those small steps, and before long, I’m involved in something that no one else knows about. Then it feels like a secret and feels even harder to talk about than if I’d brought it up in the beginning.

    There are so many ways to be psychotic about your ideas! 🙂

  • Allison J

    Taking a step at a time is so important. I’ve started writing a list of the 5 things I want to achieve each day. This way, even if the steps are small, I know that I’m moving things forward consistently – one step at a time!

    Thanks for another great post christine.

  • Kels

    Christine,
    You never cease to amaze me with your ability to see me so clearly:) How did you know I needed this kick in the pants? Thanks!!

  • Ursula Jorch

    The perfect thing to read today – thanks, Christine!

  • Laura

    Execution of ideas – thanks for this wise encouragement to do precisely that. I think I heard from you that Stephen King said ideas were worth about the same as table salt, as long as there is no execution of the idea. I really appreciate the last 2 steps — deciding and then deciding again when your faith wavers, when the step you just took didn’t turn out like you thought it would. Thank you!

  • S

    Christine, thank you SO MUCH for this article. It is amazing and powerful and exactly what I needed to read today. Thank you so much X

  • Nicola

    I once shared my most passionate idea for a yoga and photography retreat in Italy at an event for networking with other entrepreneurs. It was an exercise where we shared our dreams with the group and they were supposed to help us come up with ways to make money from them. One guy just absolutely trashed my idea, telling me that it was for my own good and that he wouldn’t want to see me “waste any more energy on something that will never work.” I was pretty stunned and didn’t have a lot to say for myself. He was obviously a complete jerk but it taught me that I needed to work harder on projecting my passion and energy into talking about it. I didn’t use the words “am I just an idiot” but I didn’t really transmit my passion for it either. I’m currently working on my kick butt pitch.

    • Krista

      Hi Nicola-
      It sounds like a great idea and I hope you pursue it! Italy, photography and yoga sounds like a very attractive combo. It sounds like the guy was jealous he didn’t think of it first. Go for it!!!

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