Some ideas on ideas

Rejection stings. And not only does it sting, it also robs you of some real gems! Let’s talk about ideas, and more importantly, how we might nurture them.

Lately I’ve been thinking. Bad idea, I know. Few good things have ever come from thinking. If it were up to me, I’d kick that one fish right back into the water so it wouldn’t waddle out of the ocean and start thinking. But sadly, waddle out of the ocean it did, and now we’re all stuck watching Marvel movies for the rest of time.

But, in between Marvel movies, I’ve been thinking. About what, you ask? 

I’ve been thinking about rejection. Not the rejection of my high school teachers or my first crush or the cute barista at the station who doesn’t laugh at my jokes. No, the rejection that’s been on my mind is my own. The rejection of my own ideas, my own opportunities. Because I reject my own ideas all the time. Sometimes mere  seconds after I’ve had them. When I banish them, out of hand, no questions asked, to the waste paper basket. Off they go, one after another, to join countless other ideas in the abyss of rejection.

Sometimes, however, I wonder. What if I didn’t reject them? What if I didn’t send them to idea purgatory, and instead told them to go play outside for a bit. Or, even better, what if I sat them down and talked to them. Figured out where they came from and what I can do with them. Tinker around a bit, see what fits and what doesn’t.

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Not all of them are going to be winners. Some do belong in the waste paper basket. And honestly, now that I’ve spent a few paragraphs personifying them, I suddenly feel quite guilty for rejecting them again. But it is the truth, not all of them are going to be amazing. But some of them could be. And by rejecting them out of hand, you rob them of that potential.  

Now, I don’t have such a high opinion of myself as to think that I’m the only one who struggles with this ‘rejection reflex’. I see it happen around me every day. Talented artists and keen business minds, ready to hurl their ideas into the abyss at the drop of a hat. I’m willing to bet you’ve dealt with it too. It seems to me a terrible shame to waste so many potentially great ideas.

Am I saying you should turn off all critical thinking and fully develop every fleeting idea you have into a completed project? No, of course not. That’s a good way to drive yourself crazy and drown in a cascade of paper.

The point I’m making is that you should trust yourself a bit more. Stop dismissing ideas out of hand, but let them sit for a bit. Put them on a low heat and let them simmer a while. Take a good hard look at them and imagine what they could become. Trust yourself to figure out when it’s time to let go of an idea and start over. But it’s always worth taking a longer look at your own ideas. Because sometimes, a really good idea is dressed up as a really, really bad one.

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