How to launch the best ideas

I suppose you do think. When you’re awake, but also when you’re asleep, your brains are constantly busy ordering all the impressions and pieces of information which came across your ears, your eyes and your mind. And more than once it occurs that out of your thinking, ideas evolve.

Those ideas could be about anything. They might solve or enrich a situation around you which you consider to be a problem or a challenge. It could be in your personal life, your working life, a group of people in which you’re involved, the society in general, just about anything. Maybe, when you’re reading this, something you have been thinking about a lot lately crosses your mind right now.

Sometimes, your idea is so good, that you want everybody to know about it. The sooner, the better. Because your idea is a world changer. Or, at least, it will change something around you significantly for the better.

But, what guarantees do you have that when you share your idea immediately, it will have its maximum impact? To put it differently, chances are likely that it won’t even reach half of its potential, when your game-changer is launched under wrong circumstances.

This tension, between the birth of your brilliant idea and the perfect moment to present it to the right people, grabbed my attention lately. I’ve found some lessons in the following parable which will give you a greater understanding of what I’m talking about, and will help your ideas bare more fruit eventually.

The farmer and his field

Think about a farmer, who is after the greatest possible harvest. First, he needs to sow his land with seed at the start of a new season. The seed has been prepared, dried, and stored dry, waiting to be sown. Grass seed, for example, could be easily stored dry for about three years, without barely losing its germination (some experts say that even after another three years it won’t give significantly less result). So, let’s suppose the farmer has no sorrows about the seed.

Marcus Pink photographed this field in Neucunnewitz, Saxony, Germany — Flickr

The challenge is not about the seed. It is about the soil.

His challenge is far more about the soil, in which the seed will be sown. When the soil is in a bad condition, the farmer can expect a bad harvest. To prepare the soil, the farmer will first fertilize the ground when a previous harvest has been reaped. Then, the ground needs to be cultivated with a plough, so it is loosened and turned. This way, fresh nutrients are brought to the surface, while weeds and the remains of previous crops are buried, so they are allowed to break down under the surface. After ploughing, the farmer will wait for the field will to dry out, and than harrow it just before sowing.

When the time is ready, and the farmer has sown a field for a new season, most of his game is played. All he can do now is to water the field when there is a drought, and kill or remove weed that wants to profit from this great and fertile soil.

The farmer is not playing alone

So the farmer has some teammates in his game. I have summarized three of them that will help your ideas reach a maximum impact.

1. Find your moments

One of the greatest challenges for the farmer is to distinguish the right moves. And maybe even harder, is to find the right timing. Of course his experience and talents will help him to understand when it’s time to make the next move. But despite all of his years in the business, and all the lessons his father and grandfather might have given him, sometimes all he can do is to simply trust his gut feeling.

2. Work on the living conditions of your idea

Another great lesson for me was that the farmer is much more worried about the soil, than the seed. In other words, we shouldn’t worry so much about our ideas in themselves. It is enough if we believe in them. We have to pay way more attention to the conditions in which we will bring them to life.

When I translate it into the context of ideas, I think about presenting it to the right people and finding the right moment and occasion. When those elements are clear to you, you should start to prepare those people and that particular moment. Wait, and prepare, and wait… until you think it’s really ready. Now the previous discussed factor — timing — is playing along. In other words, don’t be too quick, and don’t wait too long to sow the seed, or you’ll miss your moment and might have to wait for a whole new season.

3. Opposition will come

A third thing we can learn from the farmer, is that he’s sure about opposition. In his case, he knows that weed will profit from the great living conditions he created for his seed, but he’s not so worried about it. He has some different tactics in mind on forehand to deal with it. All he has to do in this part of the process, is to decide whether or not the weed is a thread for the growth of the seed.

His decision could be to simply neglect it, because he knows it is not dangerous enough to affect his harvest. He don’t want to waste any time on it. But, maybe the weed, or some nasty animals, will do form a thread to his harvest. The farmer will know how to handle this kind of resistance. Maybe he will spend an afternoon on his field with a spud. Or, depending on his views about a durable planet, he could use some form of nice chemical vermin exterminator.

What I’m talking about, is that no matter how well you prepare the environment in which you will give birth to your idea, you will encounter opposition. People might be skeptical. There might be naysayers that will shoot any kind of improvement. Others might even find momentum and liftoff for their own agendas on the ground you so thoroughly prepared (some people just don’t have manners ;-) ).

The important lesson is that some form of opposition will come and you should determine if and how you will react when it’s suddenly there. Don’t be discouraged, don’t be distracted. Always keep your focus on your authentic idea. It may need some time to reach the shape and condition you had in mind, but it will come. I hope you can say at the end that it was worth the waiting.

Of course there is so much more to say about the development and release of ideas and initiatives, or organizational and cultural change. For now, I wanted to focus on this simple parable and its many great lessons.

I hope you enjoyed reading these thoughts, and it will help you reach momentum for your ideas and initiatives.



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