What Now? The Critical Choices You Face With Every New Idea

May 9 10:26 2007 Kevin Eikenberry Print This Article

With every idea comes a critical question: do I take action or do I do nothing? Often doing nothing is the decision but the question has never been deliberately asked. Being deliberate in making this decision will help you be more productive and more fulfilled.

Every day you get new ideas. They might come in the shower,Guest Posting while you are taking a walk, driving your car, or perhaps even during a meeting! 

Most days you also learn something that you sense could really help you improve or make progress towards one of your goals or objectives. This lesson might come in a formal classroom setting, from a magazine or book you are reading, or from a casual conversation.

Receiving these ideas and lessons is a wonderful gift and a tremendous opportunity. Unfortunately, like unfound diamonds, many of these gems are never polished and made more valuable. Instead they are ignored, forgotten or tossed aside, never to be found again.

What a pity.

While it is certainly important and useful to learn new things and have new ideas, this step alone is far from enough. Individuals, teams and whole organizations consciously or unconsciously make one choice with every new idea and lesson – every diamond in the rough – they acquire. Those choices are:

1.  Take action

2.  Do nothing For a variety of reasons most ideas and lessons learned meet the second fate – the idea is considered and captured, the best practice is identified or the lesson is learned, but nothing happens.

Have you ever thought, or known someone to say, “I had that idea years ago!” after seeing a new product on the market? The fact is several people or groups had that idea years ago, but only one of them did anything with it. And the only person or group to benefit from the idea is the one who takes action.

Actually both choices (do nothing or take action) are extremely valuable to us – and both should be used wisely.  The single biggest problem we face with our ideas and new lessons is that we don’t consciously make this choice, which implies that by default we are automatically making the choice to do nothing.

So the most important thing to do with all your new ideas is to make an intentional choice. Are we going to pursue this idea or approach or not? It is OK to not take action, most likely you can’t apply everything you learn or think of – you must prioritize in some way.

The Second Choice

However, once you have intentionally decided to take action you come to the next important choice:

1.  Take a small action

2.  Take massive action

Most people most of the time make the first choice – they take small, timid, incremental action. They move forward slowly; deciding to do a small test, form a subcommittee or try the idea in a small market. Sometimes this is the prudent approach to take.

The second choice is bold and perhaps more risky. But sometimes you intuitively know this is the right course of action, or at a minimum the idea moves you towards your goal. In these cases, consider making the bolder choice. Take bigger actions, take them sooner and invest in them with your money and time, but also with your full commitment and belief.

Perhaps because choice two is more risky, it is less often taken (especially when you are a part of a larger team or organization). But remember, both of these choices have their place. There is a time to go slower and test and a time to step out boldly!

Just as with the first choice to act or not, make this choice with intention and truly give the second option more consideration than you have in the past – you’ll be glad you did! (Remember that with greater risk also comes greater reward).

The Third Choice

Once you have decided to take action (whether small and incremental or bold and immediate) you have one more choice:

1.  Go in the right direction

2.  Go in the wrong direction

This third choice focuses us on informed action. Taking action is great, but taking informed action is much more valuable. As you move forward with your idea, make sure that you are applying the lessons of others. How can you capitalize on their experience? How can you learn from their successes and/or mistakes?

Marketing expert Alex Mandossian says the only thing worse than running in the wrong direction is running quickly in the wrong direction. The power of informed action allows you to run quickly in the right direction.

Learning and taking advantage of the best experience and lessons of others (whether that is from an expert, a company in a completely different industry or our next door neighbor) reduces the risk of making mistakes. Fewer mistakes allows you to take greater action and move forward much more rapidly to uncover the value of the idea you had in the first place!

So what is the underlying message of this article?  If you want to make better use of your ideas, do the following:

1.  Decide which ideas will most help you move toward your goals and objectives.  Consciously decide which ones to act on.

2.  Recognize that you have a choice besides starting small and carefully. You can choose to take massive and immediate action.

3.  Learn from the experience of others. By applying the lessons of others to your idea you can reduce your risk and raise your productivity significantly.

Lastly, and most importantly, once you are informed and can benefit from the successes and failures of others, consider “dialing up” your action.  Meaning, once you’ve done step #3 relook at the second choice and see if you are now willing and able to take broader, bigger actions. 

As the phrase attributed to several people reads, “boldness has genius, power and magic in it!”

Using this set of choices clearly allows you to make more intentional and faster progress toward your organizational and personal goals. 

Consider these choices.

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Kevin Eikenberry
Kevin Eikenberry

Kevin Eikenberry is a leadership expert and the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group, a learning consulting company that helps Clients reach their potential through a variety of training, consulting and speaking services. To receive your free special report on Unleashing Your Potential go to http://www.kevineikenberry.com/uypw/index.asp or call us at (317) 387-1424 or 888.LEARNER.

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