I hear innumerable ideas, which is wonderful. I really enjoy creative enthusiasm. At the same time, I know how far a journey it is from raw idea to concept sketch to operational plan to approval to execution to result.
My strength and my weakness as a grizzled veteran is that I know what has been tried before, what has worked and what has failed. And, for better or worse, I think I know why.
So when someone bounces a new idea around, asks for permission to proceed, I have choices of how to respond. In days past I did my best to delineate known failure paths, warn of areas not to go into or to avoid. These days I am much more likely to:
– Specify the resources available (time, money, support from other parts of the organization)
– Define the desired result (how will we define success?)
– Establish interim accountability checkpoints, reporting deadlines, and channels
And then let the team loose sans the words of caution I used to impart so carefully.
Why have I ceased my litany of warnings and cautions? My tales of “lions and tigers and bears, oh my!”? Three major reasons:
– The past is becoming less of a reliable prologue to the future. Just because it didn’t work yesterday is no guarantee it won’t work tomorrow.
– I’ve come to believe that the quality of the execution of an idea can have as much impact on success as the quality of the idea itself.
– I found that my warnings often had an unintended side effect: I was acting like a fire hose, dousing creative enthusiasm and energy.
Sometimes the greatest risk is not taking any risk. Is there a part of your life where you are being an unintentional fire hose, dousing the fire and energy of creative enthusiasm with excessive caution?
“A mediocre idea that generates enthusiasm will go further than a great idea that inspires no one.” — Mary Kay Ash
“What I do best is share my enthusiasm.” — Bill Gates
“A man can succeed at almost anything for which he has unlimited enthusiasm.” — Charles M. Schwab