Your ideas are one of the most valuable commodities you have. This is true of everyone. Whether you’re a pastor or a student. A creative or an analytical thinker. An executive or a line worker. Regardless of your position, your ideas are God-given and you’re accountable for them.
But all of your ideas are not created equal. All ideas are not worth chasing down for more than five seconds. So you have to have a method to evaluate them on the front end. Otherwise you’ll just waste your time trying to implement something that’s only ever going to be mediocre at best.
Here’s what I do:
I try it on.
Like I would with clothes, I try on the idea before I buy into it. Any idea can look good on the rack. I want to know what it’s actually going to look in real life. In other words, I flash forward to where I would be pitching or implementing my idea.
How does it sound?
Is it clear?
Is it compelling?
Is it accomplishable?
But that isn’t enough. I’ve learned that the context in which you imagine your ideas will largely impact their nature, quality, & scope. If you really want to know an idea’s potential, you have to imagine it in a setting that pushes it to its limit. For example, when I picture naming a band (for fun), I imagine David Letterman announcing the band. When I imagine an outreach project or some other kind of initiative, I flash to me announcing it from the stage, casting the vision to the crowd.
Since that’s where I would want the idea to eventually come to fruition, I want to make sure it can perform at that level. At the highest level. If it sounds small, cheesy, or even stupid when I imagine it in that context, what makes me think that it won’t sound the exact same way in real life?
The next time you have an idea – which will probably happen today – stop for a moment and try it on. If it’s a strategic initiative, can you imagine the people in the crowd or board room actually getting excited about it? If it’s an idea for a term paper, can you imagine your teacher actually giving you an “A?”
If you can, buy into it and start making it happen.
If you can’t, put it back on the rack and move on to the next idea.