A good idea in a parallel universe

Making it happen or giving up.

The constant:

You’re sitting at a bar waiting for a friend to show up. If you’re like me, that friend is probably in a somewhat related field.You spin your glass around, watching the sweat drip down and soak into your coaster. You lift up the glass and take a drink, staring through the liquid at the obscured movement behind it as an idea shoots through your brain. “Hmm. Well. What if… No.” You can’t see the full picture, but something’s there.

You swallow then try to look through the glass again, as the television shoots distorted images through the liquid. You drink again as your friend walks in and sets her bag underneath the bar as she heads toward where she assumes is the bathroom. You finish up your drink, wipe your face, and order a round for yourselves. She’s back.

“So I have this idea.”

This statement is where the universes get mixed up. Everything you’ve done up to this point makes a difference, but not as much of one as how you treat the next few interactions. There are variables that play into whether or not the idea is moved on: the time you have the conversation, the person you’re having the conversation with, the place you have it at, the amount of sleep you got the night before, how busy both of you are, your frustration level, and the temperature. The content of this particular idea is irrelevant.

Check Yes or No

The responses either of you have to this first statement can come in a lot of flavors. “Later.” “Maybe.” “Why?” “Next time.” These all lead you to quick end. “Totally!” “Let’s do it.” “Yes!” These take you somewhere powerful. With all these ways to respond, don’t be fooled. There are really only two acceptable responses: Yes or No.

Universe 1:

You explain your idea and how it hit you. You’re moving your hands about, showing references with your iPhone and how it solves a very specific problem you haven’t seen solved yet. You’re excited and loud enough to drown out the Shins playing over the speakers, which everyone’s okay with because it’s not even old, good Shins.

She orders a second round, and excitedly starts to add to the idea. She’s had similar thoughts about this, and gives you all sorts of what-ifs and reinforcing its merits. She puts her drink down, pulls out a Moleskine and asks the bartender for a pen. You start to iron out the framework of the idea, while identifying the pitfalls of each potential direction. You have an amazing work session, over beers and about 4 hours of productive conversation.

You look at each other as you scratch at your chin. “So should we
do it?”
As you both look at the sketches and wireframes she’s laid out, at your beers, and back up to each other, you’re thinking of your workload. You’re thinking of the next few months of other creative work you have going on. You’re thinking of the time you’ve spent dedicated to other projects, and what this potential work will do to that. You’re trying to find a reason not to do it, and before you can…

“Yeah. Hell yeah let’s do it.”

Universe 2:

You explain your idea and how it hit you. You’re words are trying to find their footing but the expression on your distracted counterpart is getting to you. You’re trying to explain the merits of the idea, citing specifics through arbitrary images on your iPhone. She stops you midway, saying she love the album that was playing over the speakers. It was old, good Shins. Everybody loves old Shins.

You order a second round and try again. She expresses that she’s heard of a similar idea that hadn’t quite made it. That it was a failure. She puts her drink down, pulls out her phone and checks her Twitter feed. You know that at this point, she doesn’t really want to talk about it.

There’s an awkward silence, you both look up and down at the television, and you ask, “So should we do it?” You both think about the past hour of conversation, what you need to do over the next few hours, and how much time extra time you’ll have to spend working on something that may or may not work out.

“I dunno. Maybe when we have a bit more time.”

Two universes collide under completely different circumstances. One is the perfect storm of open-mindedness while the other seems like everything is working against it. The issue here is perspective. While it’s sometimes frustrating, very few ideas can progress without difference of opinion.

That difference of opinion is what takes things from good ideas to
great ideas. All ideas start with a conversation, and regardless of the circumstances, you have to choose whether or not to continue the conversation. The conversation is over if you let it end at “No.”

For those that have found themselves in the 2nd Universe, know that there is still hope. You can still save your idea from being swept into the obscurity of the word No.

Universe 2: Alternate ending.

You aren’t satisfied. You press on because you know the idea is good. Liquid courage is taking effect. No. “Maybe” isn’t good enough. You ask her if she has a notebook. She pulls out a Moleskine and you ask the bartender for a pen. You sketch out specifics and you see a spark in her eye. She’s hooked. You iron out the framework of the idea in what turns into an amazing 4 hour work session that could have ended if you gave up at the first point of opposition.

You look at each other as you scratch your chin. You both take a sip of your beers, trying to find any lingering reason why you shouldn’t continue the conversation. “So should we do it?”

“Yeah. Hell yeah let’s do it.”

Fight. Say yes. Never give up on good ideas.