Who decides if an idea, concept, or effort is stupid. Conventional wisdom? An urban dictionary? The majority of social media followers? Stupid covers a lot of ground and acts as a major headwind but if we choose to rise above it, we find it is a concepts that does not have a lot of depth or meaning.
Pine Cones and Acorns
If our best ideas are like pine cones and acorns then they need to fall outside the canopy of the great trees from which they fall. It is scary and uncertain to land on an exposed piece of land but necessary to germinate. Our best ideas that fall at the roots of the parent tree never have a chance to fully evolve. Unless someone transports them to open sunlight, adds moisture, and places them in fertile earth.
This is why we share ideas with others. We cannot foster all our great ideas. Too many fall under our own aboral umbrella. We have to seed them with just enough structure that someone else can take them forth. Sometimes our best success comes from moments of serendipity. The seatmate on a flight, the stranger at a conference, the visitor who sits in on a meeting. Our weakest ties become the greatest hope that our best ideas might find a home and scale to full form.
Simon Sinek reminds us that ideas only take their true form when we share them out loud. We have to give them life and put them into the narrative. Like the pine cone and acorns, their fate depends on the ecosystem in which they land.
Statues for Committees
Jamie Cooper from Drake Cooper in Boise, Idaho reminded me the other day that there are no statues erected for committees. Instead an individual or perhaps two or three are chosen to represent a moment, achievement, breakthrough, or leadership. A colleague pointed out that war monuments often have many individuals or even Mt. Rushmore selected four individuals. Agreed that there are instances where a single individual is not the focus point. The point of the statement is that somebody has to take ownership of an idea and do all that they can to keep it viable. An Imagineer at Disney told me that no idea is ever completely abandoned until it is voted down by everyone in the room. This is pretty powerful, since it would require the individual who conceived the idea to vote to abandon the concept. Statues are built because someone was willing to keep an ember alive long enough to find the right patch of ground and kindling to build a small fire and then tend it as long as required before others came and light their torches from this sacred source. Sometimes it spreads, other times the resources are exhausted and the flame extinguishes. Dedication and perseverance are statue worthy moments. Committees rarely embody the passion necessary to cultivate and idea with the same level of passion.
One of my favorite books is The Man Who Planted Trees. His believe and dedicated effort transformed a region. He act alone and without any intention of recognition. Only after his death did the totality of his efforts receive the accolades.
What remarkable idea exists due to your generosity? What keeps you serving as its shepherd?
Information from You
Where do you go to get your information? Does the source matter? If I am asking for directions are there a number of uniquely qualified sources? If I am asking for your personal opinion is there anyone you would allow to serve as your proxy? Some information is abundant and already cataloged. Personalized recommendations and opinions come from an individual source (or somebody very close and whom we can trust). We do not need to recreate Wikipedia or Google within our limited infrastructure. What we do need is to curate and care deeply about our perspective, the meaning we have drawn out of the world. People will seek out your insights because they are limited editions and offered only by you. Your genuine ideas matters, even if they are confirmation of that which is already known. Be prepared to share. Google will always lag behind real-time interactions.