Reframing Life for Idea-Makers

I deeply respect those who have a track record of producing and implementing great ideas. I recognize that much is required for anyone seriously engaging an idea in order to make it reality. Good ideas don’t just actualize on their own. A significant price is usually paid by the idea-maker(s).

Many of the idea-makers I’ve come across over the years, who are successfully able to actualize concepts year after year, have intentionally framed their lives to guide their passions. The following is an abbreviated list of insights I’ve gained towards framing a life for idea-making:

  • Never Underestimate the Importance of Process, Infrastructure, and Actionable Steps.
    • This is most definitely easier said than done. Who doesn’t want to create effective processes and actionable steps? The problem is that many feel paralysis when faced with the reality of doing the hard work of research and developing a functional system that facilitates a culture of idea-making. Idea-makers are consistently thinking about the “how” as much as they are considering the “what” and “why”. Infrastructure and actionable steps drive thinking rather than piling on more great ideas.
  • Think Options.
    • There are no platonic, universal solutions for ideas. Each idea is unique and therefore, requires us to think in terms of multiple pathways and solutions. Idea-makers consider developing the “ways” to accomplish the task rather than stressing to find the “perfect way”. In fact, the pathway to actualizing an idea will rarely, if ever, be the pathway you intended at the beginning. Fluidity is an essential element to planning. This doesn’t negate planning, but rather, frames the environment for refining plans along the way.
  • Collaboration as Necessity
    • Most great ideas need more than one person to develop and accomplish. Idea-makers recognize that collaboration is not just a nice option, but rather, a necessity. They will often go out of there way to find the right team members, outsourced assistance, and resources to help guide the idea-making process. Networking for idea-makers is often intentional, strategic, and foundational.
  • Investment or Cost?
    • Idea-makers don’t shy away from the reality of investing time and money to an idea. They choose to see their involvement as investment rather than sacrificial cost. An investment, unlike a cost, has the potential of yielding a return. Idea-makers know that it takes investment for any significant idea to get off the ground and scaled.
  • The Power of Brand
    • Idea-makers nowadays see the importance of understanding brand. Branding is not about cool logos and designs. Rather, it is the organizational identity, voice, and reputation one has in public. It often determines whether or not the public will join in on your efforts.
  • Family, Community, & Ideas
    • No idea happens in a vacuum. The idea-makers choice to pursue an idea will impact their relationship with others around them (e.g., friends, family, team, etc.). For some, the actualization of an idea comes at the cost of human relationships, even those they dearly love. This is unfortunate. Therefore, many idea-makers who recognize this have created life rhythms that intentionally bring health to the relationships they most dearly care about. This requires much communication and mutual development of working environment between the idea-maker and his/her community. Setting clearer parameters for what a season of idea-making may bring relieves a ton of unnecessary relational strain.
  • Pain & Perseverance Matters
    • Pain often frames our purpose, but only perseverance actualizes it. Idea-makers are committed to enduring for the long run. They recognize that sacrifice is a necessity and suffering provides clarity. Can you think of anyone who has created something of significance that hasn’t had to endure pain? Thought so.

Reframing this kind of life takes continual effort. Is it worth it? Most definitely!

[Bonus: Here’s a slide presentation of a talk I’m doing this morning about this topic at a conference.]

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Charles is the CEO & Chief Idea-Maker at Ideation, a brand innovation company that specializes in helping businesses & organizations build remarkable brands via innovative business design, organizational change architecture, brand integration, design, web, and marketing services. He is also the author of Good Idea. Now What?: How to Move Ideas to Execution, a practical book designed to help people move ideas to implementation. Charles is regularly invited to speak to leading companies and organizations on topics such as creativity, innovation, idea-making, and branding. Executive leaders from brands including Wells Fargo, Toyota, The White House, Catalyst, William Morris Endeavor, mun2, Council of Urban Professionals, Chick-fil-A, and many others have benefited from having Charles present at their key events.