It is the season of new beginnings after the lull of summer months. We are ‘back to work’ people and now is the time to reinvigorate our projects – our ideas – and start making things happen.
You have ideas. In some cases you may have too many. It may be a project, an opportunity, a design, a theory, an interest, a cause, or who knows. It may or may not relate to your work. It may or may not be a full-time endeavor. But the question is how to pull it out and give it a chance. How much success, how many wonderful contributions to this world all started as ideas in the heads and hearts of one or more people.
But an idea can never be more until it is given life, through a STORY.
What is the Story?
It is the blossoming of an idea. Truly, taking it from within you and putting it into the world, in the form of a thoughtful narrative that grows and evolves each time it is shared with others. When we take an idea and begin to think through it in depth and detail, clarify and develop its various elements, and connect it to the inspiration and emotion that drives it, we give it life. And a body. By this I mean that we give it structure, texture, substance that allows it to move about and interact with the world, to be considered and dealt with, so that it can grow.
Creating the initial Story is what gets you talking about it, and in doing so, you will receive responses that will help you shape the Story – and your Idea – further. Then as people start to remember your Story, and associate it with you, there emerge leads, contacts, resources, and next thing you know, your Idea is becoming a Reality. Or perhaps this will lead you to a new and better Idea. But the most important thing is that you are evolving and getting closer to creating what you want.
Why do we resist the Story?
So often we may be afraid to explore an idea for fear that just considering it, will somehow obligate us to the work and consequences required to make it a reality. But exploring is just that…exploring. Not every Story needs to lead to Action. Yet never bothering to explore… is always only a lost possibility.
Other times, we may be afraid of changing our minds down the line as if doing so is a sign of something negative. What is the point of having all these wonderful human faculties of analysis, judgment, emotion and intuition if we are not entitled to use them to their fullest potential and well…change our minds if need be? Often times, the idea that initiates will be different – perhaps drastically – from the one that ultimately emerges and develops. But hey, that’s Life.
Then there is always the fear of failure. And my question to this is: how do you define failure? Is it losing something, not having it turn out as you expected, not having the whole world praise you, or is it quitting before you even begin and never giving something a try? Something that is important to you, that you continue to wonder about, that excites and inspires you.
That’s the other thing about the Story…creating it and engaging with others as a result of it, can actually maximize your chances of success. More brains working on something is always better than one.
So how do we begin a Story?
1) Instead of looking above and around your idea, look INSIDE it.
- What do you want to accomplish & WHY?
- How will things be different if you achieve it?
- What is driving you to do this?
- Why now?
- How does it make you feel?
- What would you need to make it happen?
- Who does it involve?
- Who can help you?
- What challenges stand in your way?
- What scares you?
- What would you ask if a friend was telling you this idea?
- If you never try this, what might you think/feel, now or in the future?
- What 5 things can you do to get this started right now?
2) Write it out. Draw it. Talk it out, to yourself and to others. Then repeat, repeat, repeat. Have a way that you can always jot down spontaneous realizations, in a small notebook or your mobile device. It is the only way you can get past the initial thoughts and move to deeper levels.
3) What, How, WHY? Simon Sinek coined this model for leadership and organizations and I suggest using it as a framework for your Story. As you continue to work on your idea, get some clarity and language around these core questions so that you can speak on them openly and naturally as you encounter new people to share with. This is an authentic, honest process, and the more you arrive to your answers, and internalize them, the more freely your Story will flow. But as Simon says, start with WHY…
- WHY [purpose, cause or belief] – what is your driving motivation behind your idea?
- HOW [guiding principles, strategies, actions] – how do you want to make this happen?
- WHAT [tangible actions] – what do you want to do?
The WHY is critical because it is what reaches into people’s minds and hearts and ultimately connects them with your Idea. When they connect, they may help, either by offering you something you need to make it happen or retelling your Story and connecting you with others who may do so.
4) And when you are ready…you can even move onto the *GREAT Presentation* and spread your Story far and wide.
You Idea need not make you a lot of money. Or it might. It need not be well-known. But it could be. Maybe it will not change the world. Or maybe it will. But if you’ve carrying it around for however long, why not let it out to play?