There is a deceptive notion that some persons are innately creative, and with a brilliant mind they come up with ground breaking innovative ideas out of nowhere. This deception has come from stories about the great geniuses whose ideas were instantaneous. Maybe the best example is the story of how the observation of a falling apple sparked Isaac Newton’s new concepts of physics.
Nothing could be more wrong. Although the numerous life-changing innovations we have all around us, all have been born from creative sparks in someone’s mind, they have never appeared as a ready idea. Instead there is a long way from the first idea or notion of how something could be to the end-product, and often it is not even the person with the original idea who is later the one bringing the final product to the market.
The truth is that the first idea often is crude, vague and illusive. It’s there as a rough concept but has yet no real shape and form. To refine this first idea into something truly meaningful is a long and sometimes painful journey full of trials and errors, and often the end-result is far away from the original idea.
From this, one can draw two important conclusions. The first is that there are seldom any quick wins. George de Mestral spent 14 years, from the first idea to the functioning Velcro® product. If you have an idea and want to see it through you will need to prepare for a long and often arduous journey.
The second learning experience, and maybe the most important, is that one should never discard an idea, just because it is rough and immature. The belief that all innovations stem from sudden mature ideas, is the root cause of many missed opportunities. If you have an idea that may change how people act or think, don’t discard it just because it yet does not have any sharp contours. Instead embrace it and treat it as a young child that will need your love, nurturing and attention to grow into his full potential. If you expect your ideas to be perfect, then you will never be satisfied with any of them
Furthermore, the ideas for great innovations don’t come as a single moment of epiphany. Instead they are the result of many small ideas, some bearing fruits and others not, that often come over many years of hard work. See it as a marathon rather than a sprint. This is regardless of the field you are working in; arts, music, inventions.
For some of these ideas the time may not yet be ripe, so it is a good idea to store all of them in an idea bank for future use. What looks useless right now, may be the missing piece a year from now, alternatively serving as inspiration for another more advanced idea.