The mistake most people make re: good ideas

Let's talk about ideas for a second…

When I was growing up, there was a friend of mine who was kind of brilliant. His humor and quick thinking constantly surprised me. My brother and I would hang out with Jonathan and each time we'd come away with some pretty funny stories.

I don't know if you've ever met someone that is an idea generator. I don't know if maybe that's you. And I certainly don't know if your ideas are great ones.

But let's assume they are.

Brilliant ideas. Wonderful ideas. Amazing ideas.

And this is the part where I tell you that it doesn't matter.

Before you step away from the post, let me be clear – good (even great) ideas are things of beauty but when we embrace them simply because they're good, we often make a classic mistake.

It's easy to get caught embracing a great idea while making a classic mistake (at the same time).

Let me show you what I mean

I'm going to use a silly example because I think it will both exaggerate my point and make it clear as day.

Imagine you had a nice car. One you liked and were proud of.

Now imagine it dirty. I mean seriously dirty. So covered in spots and dirt and bird poop that you were embarrassed to drive it anywhere important.

Now imagine that you're a bit tight on funds. But the car wash down the road announces that they're doing a 75% off discount tomorrow. One day only.

So you get up early and rush over to get your car washed, right?

Wait a minute.

Did you want to ask any questions?

  • How much does the 25% still cost?
  • How much is in your budget?
  • What's the weather like?
  • Is it likely to rain in 2 days?

Depending on those answers, you might decide not to get up and rush over, right?

And that's my point.

A good idea is just the start. You also need to consider context and timing.

You wouldn't get your car washed for $300 would you? Even if that was only 25% of the actual cost.

You wouldn't get your car washed tomorrow if it was certain that it would rain the next day.

Context and timing are everything.

The mistake we make with good ideas

The mistake we all make, me and you, is to think that a good idea is a good idea at any time. If it was good yesterday, it will be good today. And if it's good today, it's good tomorrow.

And that's simply not the case.

Good ideas are only good if the context and especially timing are right.

When I was a kid and first started learning to play chess, I was thrilled with the power of pieces like the Queen—who could move just about anywhere at any time.

So I would move her around—because I could.

And I learned pretty quickly that it was a silly mistake.  Just because you can doesn't mean you should.

Just because you can doesn't mean you should.

What I learned was that the Queen's real power came after I had used all my other pieces to set myself up for success. Then her power was incredible.

The same is true for your good ideas. They require planning. And great timing.

And that's what makes them incredibly powerful.

So don't go making the mistake of rushing into your next good idea without some strategy and timing work. Ok?