Fear of the Idea

Does this ever happen to you?

You (or someone in your organization) comes up with a new idea, and after an initial stage of euphoria and excitement, you are left with a sinking feeling of “Oh, sh*t”.

Your enthusiasm dwindles as you are filled with anxiety about what to do next. How do I turn this idea into action? How do I get it out of our heads and into the marketplace?

Perhaps these are some of the thoughts running through your mind:

  • Getting ideas approved through our organization is an Olympic sport
  • By the time everyone is on board, our competition will probably beat us to it
  • It seems like an interesting idea, but maybe we need more data to know for sure.
  • If it’s such a good idea, why hasn’t someone tried it before? What’s the catch?
  • Seems risky, I’m not sure we can afford to fail. Do I really want to stick my neck out?

Well if you recognize yourself in some or all of the above statements, you are not alone.

I have worked with many entrepreneurs and all of them have faced moments of fear and self-doubt. Many of them have described the idea like a big elephant in the room. You can’t ignore it but you don’t quite know what to do with it.

These feelings are natural. It’s the way our mind’s are wired to process something new. But just because you have these feelings, it doesn’t mean you have to give into them.

The secret to successful entrepreneurs is that they channel this anxiety back into something positive. They acknowledge the fear, embrace it, and use it as the adrenaline they need to take action.

Here are a three tips that I learned from successful entrepreneurs during a  recent BRITE conference I participated in:

  1. Go with your gut: If the idea is appealing to you, if it solves a problem that you find personally relevant, then it will most likely appeal to others. Limit the market research and channel your energy on bringing the idea to life.
  2. Focus on usefulness: Don’t get caught up in cerebral words like “innovation” that frame the idea in terms of what it means to you and your organization. Try to think right away about what it could mean to others. Focus on “usefulness”. This will force you to think more about your end user and will strengthen the idea helping it move more quickly into development and sharing mode.
  3. Live in beta, stay flexible: A lot of us tend to fall in love with our ideas, treat them as precious objects, and wait to attain perfection before we share them with the rest of the world. This can be very destructive. Ideas are meant to evolve, and failure can actually be a very positive force as long as you learn from it and use it as a catalyst to try different approaches the next time around. We learn so much more about ideas when we start to share them and see how they operate in the real world. Rarely is the end result exactly the way we envisioned it in the beginning.

That’s my point of view. What’s your twist?

How do you deal with your fear of the idea?

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