The dominion of ideas – 4

“If you re possessed by an idea, you find it expressed everywhere. You can even smell it”. — Thomas Mann, German novelist and essayist, winner of the 1929 Nobel Prize for Literature.

In the place of meditation, ideas begin to take shape as more details of its possibilities emerge. What information to look for, what expertise would be required, who is currently involved in doing it, government policies pertaining to the idea and many other issues will arise in the course of meditation. Even if all the details are not structured and very clear, a good foundation is laid for other stages in the realization process.

It is important that you develop a clear vision around your idea. Ideas simply paint pictures in outline. Like the pictures on a children’s colouring book, you will need to move from one point to another to connect the dots that produce the entire picture. A vision is an advanced picture of an expected outcome. Every idea is expected to produce something that adds value to humanity in one way or the other. Ideas fill significant gaps in the human continuum. Before your idea can succeed significantly in the marketplace of life you must know what it is designed to do and what specific problems it would solve. Zappos is an organization that primarily sells shoes and clothes. However, it defines its corporate vision as the delivery of WOW to its teeming customers through quality service and has built its operating values and corporate culture around it. It so happens that the platform of delivering happiness to its teeming consumers is the selling of shoes and clothes! An integral part of vision is setting goals and having a plan. A plan is a mini roadmap that shows how to move from one point to the other.

Nurture your idea. The more information you have about and around an idea, the better. In nurturing an idea, you can never have too much information. The real problem is that you may not have enough! In seeking information about an idea, you will come across the footprints of those who had done it before, if any, and you can leverage on their experiences and where available, their expertise. Sometimes you may have an idea that appears totally unprecedented simply because you had never heard about it anywhere before it struck you. I had an interesting experience about this recently. I had gone to an engineer to help design machines around an idea that had played around my head for a while. By the time I told him what I wanted, he described in detail the process that it would entail and made me realize that the product was being manufactured already in a part of the country. As the saying goes, when the student is ready, the teacher shows up. Study. Seek mentors. The Law of Leverage operates on the basis of the fact that what is to you a dream is already reality to somebody. Somebody already has whatever it is that you are looking for. I recently decided to invest in a particular industry. In the environment where I operate, I was not able to get enough information to guide my operations. However, in the last one week, I had the privilege of attending a workshop where I was introduced to someone who had significant experience and infrastructure in that line of business. It turned out that he is one of the biggest players in that industry in Nigeria! Even though he is a much younger person, I wasted no time in asking him to mentor me. Adequate information and appropriate mentoring connections actually shorten the distance between you and your dreams. You don’t have to make the same mistakes that someone else who had gone ahead of you made.

Every vision is as strong as the strategy that drives it. Without an appropriate strategy, an idea may be stillborn or completely derailed. The more information you have, the more effective your strategy is likely to be. The most effective strategies are woven around advocacy. Ideas produce breakthrough effects when they solve a social problem and are hyped as panacea to human challenges.

Do something with your idea. The best of ideas without the desire to back it up with action is dead on arrival! Action serves as feet to ideas. According to a Chinese dictum, vision without action is daydreaming while action without a vision is a nightmare.

Work is the nexus between a dream and its fulfillment. Ebenezer Obey, a Nigerian musician, once sang that anyone who finds himself picking free money on the floor in his sleep should rather see that as a signal for hard work in his waking moments because no one spends money made in the dream in real life! Several people have lofty dreams but develop cold feet at the point of execution. One of the greatest mistakes anyone with an idea can make is to wait until all conditions are perfect before acting on it. No breakthrough idea was ever perfect at its initial stage. Every sustainable idea will go through series of evolutionary processes that entail trial and error moments. The strength of the vision and the unleashing of innovative thinking are the factors that facilitate continuous improvement. If you waste time on implementing an idea, someone else might just go ahead of you and do something similar. Even if his process or outcome is not nearly as good as yours, he is respected as a pioneer and simply becomes the benchmark for the execution of that idea while you are seen as the imitator. The wisdom of scriptures teaches us in the eleventh chapter of Ecclesiastes that those who wait for all conditions to be perfect never get anything done. Every adult started life as a baby. Giant steps begin as baby steps.

Nothing beats an idea whose time has come. But then, if the idea was not birthed ab initio, its time could never come because no one would have known of its possibility. Unfortunately, more often than not, ideas fail, not because they are bad, but because the ones with the ideas do not have enough yeast in them to make the dough of the idea rise. Internalized discouragement and a heavy heart are antithetical to the success of an idea. In the midst of pervasive cynicism, breakthrough ideas are hardly embraced at the onset. When people feel stuck in a rut, getting them to see a way out is a tough job. Faced with this challenge, passion must become the fuel of achievement. After all, if you do not believe in your own idea, why should anyone else?

Crisis is the maternity ward of creativity. In every crisis, there are two categories of people; those who whine and those who win as well as those who only talk and those who think. The latter category will always lead the former out of the woods.

Nurturing any new ideas? Don’t hold back. It’s your season to thrive!

Remember, the sky is not your limit, God is!