Have you ever had the experience where you and some friends or colleagues were talking about ideas about how something could be better if you just . . .
Maybe you went so far as even to build out a verbal template of what it would look like.
You were all excited about the idea and resolved to pursue it.
Then poof. Nothing came.
Maybe a year or two later, you see your idea hit the mainstream and its awesome. Except it’s not your idea, someone else thought of it and became the industry leader.
Oh well, you think, I’m not meant to be a leader anyway. Leaders have a title of some sort, or they have special business skills.
Only the truth is, that isn’t true at all. And maybe you know it deep down that if you had stuck with the idea and pursued it with with a little intention, that could have been you.
Why I Know This Well
I know this feeling a little too well because I’ve watched a couple of awesome ideas that I had come and go. I’ve been ahead of the curve a couple of times with big ideas such as narrative medicine and advanced practice provider fellowships. But you wouldn’t know it because I only thought about them.
I fantasized about them, but I never persistently pursued them. I even went so far as writing an article on fellowships and designing a neurocritical care fellowship. Alas, I threw in the towel early. Thought it was a good idea, but I couldn’t stay on track to make anything from it.
When you get together with your colleagues and the ideas are flowing, how do you stop talking and start implementing a process? I think that is the essence of the issue. Because talking is easy, but to implement something, well that takes some work. And if you think about everything that would need to be done, then it can be beyond overwhelming. You are likely to shut the idea down pretty quickly.
How can you combat this and pursue an idea?
Well, there are a couple of things you can do.
Once you have a pretty good idea of what you want to do, you have to commit to doing it. If you are working with other people, it’s even more important to get everyone to commit to the process.
Schedule time every day to address the idea in whatever form it is in. And for groups, schedule a weekly meeting to discuss next steps. You will quickly find out who is serious and who isn’t. Make group rules, such as miss X number of meetings, and you’re out.
Map out the big picture. Start with the result in mind. What would success look for you in pursuing this idea? This idea could be earning a certain income number; it could be working less; it could be a position you secure. Make it something real that can be measured
For instance, “making lots of money” cannot be measured. “A lot of money” could mean making $400 a month or $40,000 a month. Your idea of success will change, so make sure you start with the goal in mind. Put a number to it. If your idea of success is $1000 a month, then what needs to be done to earn that kind of money?
If you want to secure a leadership position somewhere, what is that dream job?
Then you can reverse engineer what needs to be done to achieve that success.
Let’s take your business idea for a second. You decide that you want to be a personal trainer for special needs kids. You want to earn $900 a month. You charge a monthly fee of $299 for four sessions a month. To make $900 a month, you need three clients. This number means you will do 12 personal training sessions a month.
Now how could you find three clients? This idea is where you operationalize and where most wantrepreneurs or dreamers trail off and lose focus.
To find three clients without paying for advertising, you could network with people. You could write articles for your local metro magazine. You could print out cards and leave them at the local coffee shop. You could tell local schools what you do. You could find organizations where mothers of kids with special needs hang out or look for advice. You could join forums.
I think the problem most people run into is the lack of a next step. Yes, I have this great idea, but how do I go from conceptualization to operationalization? And the key is to know what you want from your idea, reverse engineer your ideal success and then be persistent working through the various tasks that need to be done to achieve that goal.
You don’t need to have everything figured out on day one. But it helps if you get someone to help guide you through the process and help keep you accountable.