Want to be a great idea person? Don’t let your ideas get mixed up with your ego. I can always tell a novice in a client meeting or brainstorming session. They’re the ones who keep trying to defend their ideas long after the rest of the group has moved on. They also get their feelings hurt easily – especially when their idea gets rejected.
I love the quote from a long-time advertising man: “Having ideas is like shaving – if you don’t do it every day, you’re a bum.”
Younger creative people put way too much stock in individual ideas. But the truth is, the secret to having great ideas is having a lot of ideas. In a client or team meeting or a brainstorming session, believe in your ideas, but respect and follow the flow of the group. If the group rejects the idea, keep in mind that it could be for a multitude of reasons – budget, schedule, resources, and more. It may be a good idea, but not a good idea right now.
When you keep arguing for and defending your idea long after it’s been passed over, you only expose your inexperience, risk antagonizing the rest of the group, and hurting the momentum.
The older and more experienced I’ve become, I realize that I’ve burned through a million ideas in my lifetime: a few great ones, many good ones, and a whole lot of stinkers. At Hollywood parties, I’ll occasionally meet people who call themselves “idea people,” and it’s tough to keep from laughing. Keep your eye on those guys. They’re the ones who never actually work.
And it’s worth noting that the really valuable people out there are the ones who can make ideas happen. They have good ideas and the skill to craft them into scripts, create compelling stories, produce movies or other programming, write books, and more.
People who can turn ideas into reality are the ones who get paid, and they often get paid well.
So the next time you participate in a brainstorming session or kick a few ideas around at the office, remember to check your ego at the door. Creative meetings are not about you. They’re about generating ideas for a specific purpose. When your idea doesn’t get applause, they’re not rejecting you. There’s no shame in coming up empty in those meetings. Sometimes it clicks, and sometimes it doesn’t.
But the worst thing that can happen is when good ideas get diverted because the group’s energy is spent on soothing one person’s hurt feelings or listening to a desperate defense of a bad idea.
To learn more about creating great ideas – especially when you’re up against a deadline, check out my book “Ideas on a Deadline: How to Be Creative When the Clock is Ticking.” It could dramatically transform your ability to create breakthrough ideas when you’re under the most pressure.