At least… better than you think.
When you can spit out 100 ideas a minute, you tend to develop internal filters to determine which ideas are worth sharing and pursuing. When you factor in the mental friction that comes with investigating and researching some of the ideas, we probably end up sharing a very small fraction of the ideas that go through our heads.
I caught myself walking away from a few solid ideas over the last few weeks and decided to dive deep into reflection to figure out why the hell I do that. I came up with a pretty simple list for you tl;dr folks — I’ll dive deeper for everyone else (and myself).
1 – I’m 99% sure someone has already thought of this, proposed it, or even tried to implement it. I heard an interesting term for this: “idea drought” where we feel like it’s all been done before and we have nothing new or original to offer. This feels more real when you look at how many remakes, reboots, cover songs, and remixes are circulated daily.
2 – It’s probably not worth my time. I can’t make a strong enough case or see a clear path to significant impact after pondering it for 5ish minutes or so and I refocus and move on.
3 – I have too many other important things to do. This one is probably the realest of the reasons I give myself not to put time/energy/thought into an idea.
These are all valid reasons not to sink a ton of time and energy into every idea that makes it into your consideration queue. There are NOT valid reasons to drop ideas that are worth pursuing and may offer an opportunity to make a bigger impact than other tasks or projects being worked on.
So… what makes an idea “better” ?
Is it a new perspective? A shift in the business? The availability of better tools and resources? A new opportunity in the market? A prophecy from one of your favorite fortune-telling cryptids?
For me, a better idea is one that:
(1) Is crafted based on a deeper understanding of the market, product, or customer.
(2) Is based on new insights that reshape and/or validate the solution.
(3) Expands the impact of a solution without expanding the cost of implementing it.
(4) Is more feasible or easier to execute.
(5) Has a higher potential impact and/or a more clear path to measurement.
When you apply this criteria to your ideas, you can start to see how an idea might be better than you initially thought. Validating your ideas quickly helps to allocate the right amount of energy towards the right things.
ADHD is interesting in that we’re capable of doing as much work as we’re interested in doing and very little work we don’t want to do. Pretty punk rock rebellion, right?
We feel happier, more energized, and more excited when we give ourselves time to pursue new ideas. We need to balance that with our tendency to spread ourselves too thin and lose track of the things we already started.
Tips for the Balancing Act
- Find a method for tracking what you have done, what you need to do, and what you should be thinking about.
- Give yourself an “allowance” for exploring and pursuing new ideas. Maybe it’s an hour a day, maybe it’s one day a week, find something that works for you.
- Pursue the ideas that stick. Trust your instincts and remember that your brain processes a lot more than the average person. If an idea is showing up in your head repeatedly, it’s got potential.
- Before you assume someone has already done it, look at the details to see if they did, how they did it, and why it didn’t take off the way you would expect it to. The best part of your idea may be hidden in the details.
- Look for places for your idea to connect dots or complete puzzles. We will see things that others can’t without a more direct application in front of them. Look for specific examples of where your ideas will shine and use them to help others understand their value.