You’re in a meeting and a seemingly brilliant idea enters your mind. Adrenaline starts to rush. You imagine what wonderful things might happen if your idea is executed. You can’t wait to interject.
“Wait a second. I just had an idea.”
Everybody stops and gives you their attention as you breathlessly explain the epiphany you just experienced. Maybe you rambled a little or reached a little for examples and metaphors, but the idea was brought to the table. That’s enough for you.
You finish and wait for the plaudits. The room is quiet. It takes a while for people to absorb brilliance. Someone begins to speak.
His words aren’t coated in appreciation and wonder. They’re hardened by skepticism and disinterest. Others echo his sentiment. Soon the conversation moves on and your idea has been brushed off the table onto the floor, soon to be sucked into the vacuum of time and forgotten.
Sound familiar? We’ve all been there. Some of us seem to live there. Your idea seemed so exciting and valid in your mind. Now it is worthless.
Why didn’t anyone else like your idea?
Here are a few reasons ideas aren’t accepted:
1. You took a leap, but didn’t build a bridge.
Our minds wander down paths and make leaps from one idea to the next very quickly. Your idea makes perfect sense to you because of the path you followed internally. If you don’t take everyone else down that path, it probably won’t make sense to them.
2. Your idea had no tether.
Your idea may be exciting, but if it isn’t tied to the purpose, budget and/or deadline… it’s floating away like a helium balloon without a string. See more on this in my post about Paper Airplanes and Kites.
3. You told a song.
Some ideas just can’t be spoken. They have to be experienced differently. You might need music or an illustration. Concepts for TV often need storyboards. Print ideas may need a layout sketch. Don’t expect people to see or hear what is in your head. Make it real to them.
4. You have no relational equity.
Maybe you’re new and need to “earn your stripes.” Perhaps they don’t like you. Do you have a track record for presenting poor ideas? This is a big and difficult hurdle to cross. Find someone with relational equity and get them to champion your idea.
5. You tossed an egg instead of a bird.
You tossed it out there too early. Given time, it would have flown. Instead, it simply splattered on the floor. Unless you have a VERY forgiving environment, a premature idea won’t survive. Be more patient.
6. Too many thorns around the rose.
Maybe it was a good idea, but when criticism arose, you got defensive. Maybe you didn’t show any flexibility when suggestions were offered. Be willing to give in to peripheral changes like colors or fonts (unless it really does kill the idea). Even consider more drastic changes. Considering them doesn’t mean you have to allow them. If they can’t touch or smell the rose without a prick, they won’t appreciate it as much.
7. You assumed you knew it all.
This is a huge mistake that happens way too often. Don’t be presumptuous. Maybe your idea has been tried before. Maybe there’s more information that would help you come up with better ideas. Perhaps your idea won’t work, but be willing to let it bring new ideas out of others. You don’t have to CREATE all the ideas, just RECOGNIZE the good ones.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but these are the ones I encounter most often. Hope this helps you next time you think no one likes your ideas.