Stop Taking Credit For Great Ideas

To become truly fulfilled in your career or calling, you need to answer one important question: Which is more important: Making your ideas happen, or taking credit for coming up with those ideas?  I know people who pounce on every opportunity to remind people they came up with certain ideas or projects. They’re willing to stop discussions, interrupt brainstorming sessions, and derail conversations, because they feel absolutely compelled to “remind” everyone: “That was my idea!”

And I understand the feeling. Any creative person wants to feel that his or her efforts are appreciated, and it never hurts when your great ideas get noticed. However, this is a problem for two reasons:

1) Nobody cares.  At that moment, the team is interested in moving forward. They want to act on the idea, not dwell on who thought of it. It’s not selfish on their part, they’re just in action mode. Constant, gentle “reminders” that you thought of it first, wear other people down, and it won’t take long before you and your ideas aren’t welcome anymore – no matter how great they happen to be.

2) It frees you.  Remember the great quote from President Ronald Reagan: “There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit.” Not feeling a need to own all the best ideas is the essence of great leadership.

This isn’t to devalue your creativity, it’s about rising above the constant need to promote yourself.

Remember, It’s not about you, it’s about the idea.

In fact, once you get into the habit, you’ll be surprised to find that it gives you a fun little charge every time someone else takes credit for your ideas – because you allow them to feel like they came up with it.

Motivational legend Dale Carnegie believed that when you give an order to an employee or team member, they’ll resent it. Maybe they won’t say that to your face, but deep inside, they’ll fight it because nobody likes to be ordered around. But if a person believes an idea is his, he’ll fight to the death to make that idea a reality. Therefore, Carnegie’s advice to leaders? Stop ordering people around, and start letting them think it’s their idea. They’ll buy into it faster, and accomplish so much more.

What do you think? Are you too protective of your ideas to actually set them free?


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  1. I’m an idea person, a strategist, and often other people have carried out my ideas or been the front people on projects. They have often ended up getting all the credit while I was invisible. This has not helped my career. If you don’t toot your own horn as a creative person, the trombone section is likely to drown you out.

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