Why great ideas are worthless

by | August 13, 2012

“You’re just one idea away from a major breakthrough,” I once heard a seminar speaker declare, referring to business success.

If only it were that easy. If it were, I’d have “major breakthroughs” every day.

The only ideas that have led to “major breakthroughs” in my life are the ones I’ve actually acted on.

I was reminded of something else I heard at another seminar: “Don’t tell me about your potential. Every bozo living in the street has potential.”

Ideas are like potential — worthless without action. Ideas are a dime a dozen. Execution is worth its weight in gold. Execution gives ideas value.

Victor Hugo famously said, “All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come.”

Hogwash. All the ideas in the world have no power except those acted on.

“All men are created equal” was nothing but an idea until Revolutionaries suffered, bled, and died for it.

“I have a dream” was just that — a dream — until civil rights activists acted boldly to achieve that dream and were beat, imprisoned, assassinated.

Without the light bulb, Edison is just an unknown crank with a great idea. Without Henry Ford acting on his idea for the auto assembly line, his company wouldn’t exist.

Alone, an idea is a seed without soil and water. Christ taught how to manifest true value from ideas in his “Parable of the Sower”:

Behold, a sower went forth to sow;

And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:

Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:

And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.

And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:

But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.

Ideas, like seeds, need spiritually-receptive, hard-working gardeners to make them grow.

If you’re not in tune with your intuition, your ideas fall by the wayside. If you flit from project to project with no follow-through, your ideas fall upon stony ground and wither in the sun. The thorns of fear and pessimism, if heeded, will choke your ideas.

Yes, dynamic, creative, innovative thinking is absolutely essential to success. But action is the pilot, ideas are the co-pilot.

Don’t wait for an earth-shattering idea before acting. Engage. Move. Do what you can with what you have, where you are, to the best of your ability.

The more you focus and the harder you work to achieve a goal, the more creative you will become. In fact, your best ideas will come as a result of persistent execution over time. Lights turn on after the wire is laid.

As Colleen Barrett said,

“When it comes to getting things done, we need fewer architects and more bricklayers.”

People who consistently act on small ideas achieve more than those with big ideas and no follow-through. Action yields far more fruit than brainstorming.

The seeds of ideas can only sprout through action, take root through execution.

You can have the greatest ideas in the world and never progress. In truth, you’re just an action away from a major breakthrough.

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