For as long as I can remember, I have been labeled as an idea man. I'm excellent at creating theoretical schemes, and proposing grand solutions to problems. In a group setting, I am usually the one throwing out ideas and ways to solve a problem. I have a notebook of business ideas that I carry around with me, and my friends probably get sick of hearing me ramble on about my next “big invention.”
The problem with this is that I never follow through!
We need idea men (and women, of course) to help drive innovation, and push the boundaries of what is possible in business, technology, and science. However, ideas are great on paper but we won't get anywhere unless we also have people who are willing to dive into these ideas and turn them into reality.
Idea to Reality
College is a great example of this phenomenon. Many professors are often asked what their teachings have to do with real life. I vividly remember sitting in a math class — or a geology class — and hearing a student ask the dreaded question: “How will we use this in real life?” Transitioning head knowledge and ideas into practical reality can be difficult.
However, your success depends on your ability to do just that!
If you have a dream of owning your own business one day, you may be like me with a notebook filled with your latest business ideas. You may even have a business plan sketched out in your notebook, and have a working idea of how you will start your business. However, getting your business from an idea on paper to an entity that actually makes money, takes much more than a good idea.
The most difficult part of taking an idea and turning it into a business is getting beyond yourself. Once you are able to realize that you probably do not have the most creative idea in the world, you can begin to look at your business model through the lens of the consumer. Your customers are the ones who will drive your business, so does it not make sense to build a business that caters to their wants and needs, rather than your own?
Ideas are excellent tools for brainstorming, and for driving change. But ideas also need to be evaluated, changed, edited, and molded into plans for actually doing something worthwhile.
The other danger of being an idea man is that constantly creating new ideas will stop you from ever seeing one idea through to completion. You will get stuck in the mud of your constantly changing focus and passion and lose sight of the goal.
This is one of the reasons that my friends are sick of hearing me lay out my latest invention or brilliant idea. They know that next week I will come back with another one, and they will hear the same passion and fervor, but nothing ever gets done.
I thrive off of ideas, but I rarely see these ideas through to completion, which gets me nowhere. In fact, if I actually take the initiative to implement an idea, I always get sidetracked with a new idea in the middle of the implementation process. This is why I suck at blogging. I can't keep a blog alive long enough to make it interesting. I can't keep a blog focused on a single topic, and nobody wants to listen to the ravings of a clinical idea man.
Ideas without implementation are worthless.
The best solution to this problem is to surround yourself with people who will both be very honest with you, and who are excellent at implementing ideas.
If you plan to start a business, then you need to bring in people who are excellent with details. If you plan to be a CEO, for example, you may need to hire a chief technology office, and a VP of operations to make sure that stuff actually gets done. These individuals will keep you honest and make sure that you stay focused.
Surrounding yourself with these types of people in your career will also ensure that projects get completed. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses in these areas will play a critical role in your success in your career.
Who do you surround yourself with?