“In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) from the essay Self Reliance
Works of genius don’t come from great ideas. They come from guts. It’s true, you need a great idea in the first place – but that’s only 1% of the equation. The other 99% is action. Everyone has great ideas. Very few people have the courage to bet on them. It stings to see our own rejected thoughts in another’s work of genius because we realize that they had the courage to act…where we did not.
When I work with clients, I keep a running a log of the ideas they talk about wanting to pursue. The first time I hear them talk about an idea I jot it down. The second time, I put a checkmark next to it. The third time, if there’s been no action, I highlight it and make a request. I ask them nicely to never bring it up to me again unless they intend to do something about it. This request usually has a powerful impact. If forces them to confront their level of commitment. And it forces them to get off the fence and make a choice.
1. Think of an idea you like to talk about pursuing, but haven’t done much with yet.
2. Count the number of times you’ve spoken about it in the last year.
3. Keep a log of how many times you talk about it in the next 2 months.
4. Sooner rather than later, give yourself an ultimatum – “I’m going to do something or stop talking about it.”
5. Whatever you do, don’t keep talking about it without a commitment to action – it’s futile…and exhausting.
Doug Sundheim is a leadership and strategy consultant with over 20 years experience in helping leaders drive personal and organizational growth. His latest book is Taking Smart Risks: How Sharp Leaders Win When Stakes are High (McGraw-Hill, January 2013). You can follow Doug on Twitter @DougSundheim and find out more about his services at www.clarityconsulting.com.