Your Big Idea Will Fail Without This …

No, It’s not Implementation … that’s the obvious answer other people would give you.

The key to making the most of your brilliant idea is not implementation, but something else. And if you’re missing this, your idea is doomed.

A Few Years Ago, I had a Big Idea

While walking around the city in search of a place to work, I noticed how many restaurants were closed during the day. I had an idea that it would be great to repurpose these spaces as co-working spaces during the off hours. The restaurants could install wifi. They could even possibly offer a limited menu service if people wanted to order, or discounts on meals, or happy hour. It would be a great way for restaurants to earn additional revenue from a space that otherwise sees no activity during the day. And it would solve a need that many people had.

I remember telling someone about this idea. The person responded with skepticism, cynicism and doubts.

  • Who would pay for it?
  • How would it work?

Look, I’m all about asking questions, but sometimes… Too. Many. Questions.

I didn’t have answers then. It was just an idea. I simply knew that if I needed this, others would need it. I knew it was a brilliant idea, but with other demands calling me, and the voices of doubt ringing in my mind, I couldn’t form a vision around it. I stacked the idea on the “someday” shelf.

Well, “someday” has come. But not in the way I anticipated.

You can imagine how I felt when I learned about Spacious, Spacious, a new entry in the co-working space. Spacious leverages the space in restaurants that are closed during the day, and turns them into co-working spaces.

Sound familiar?

It’s no surprise that someone else had this idea too. There’s no monopoly on great ideas (especially the super obvious ones, which, in my opinion, this was — notwithstanding what my skeptical friend had to say). That person was better inoculated against the poison of other peoples’ doubts and fears, implemented the idea. Quite well, I might add.

I’m Not Bitter… here’s why:

You might expect me to be bitter and resentful. But I’m not at all. In fact, I’m grateful that someone implemented it. Also, I feel validated. Spacious’ early success proves to me that my idea and intuition was spot-on. I knew there would be a market for this, and I was right.

Each time I walk into a Spacious space I remember that my idea was brilliant.

More than reaffirming my genius, walking into a Spacious restaurant reminds me of three lessons that I have learned since I first had that idea.

Lesson 1: Ideas Aren’t Enough.

Creative entrepreneurs often stress about not having enough ideas. Here’s the thing: generating ideas is easy. Just walk outside. Look around. Take your head out of your phone long enough to see what goes on in the world. Trust me. You’ll get plenty of ideas.

Ideas alone aren’t enough.

I’m sure you know that. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard from people who

What matters is not the idea, but the implementation.

Sound familiar?

While this is true, it also skips a step.

When it comes to ideas, cultivation comes before implementation

When we jump to implement an idea too soon, we can easily send ourselves down a road of “progress” towards creating something that doesn’t serve our larger mission and purpose. Meeting a goal means nothing if the goal isn’t aligned with your big picture vision.

Before we begin to implement an idea, we must cultivate it. By cultivate, I mean that we must consider:

  • whether we want to give our precious energetic resources to it in this moment, and
  • whether this is an idea that is ripe to pursue now

Idea cultivation requires that we give ourselves the internal space to nurture it and create a vision around it.

Lesson 2: Our Internal Space is As Important As Our External Space

Spacious offers environments ideally suited to my style of working. But the external space means nothing without the ability to create internal space.

Back when this idea first came to me, I didn’t yet know how to create the internal space to cultivate my idea. I was too busy reacting to the pings in my inbox to consider how I could bring it into form, or if I would even want to.

My mind was too filled with the voices of skeptics and doubters to listen to my inner voice — let alone to hear what it wanted to tell me.

Eventually I reached a point where I resolved to stop reacting to the demands on me. Through years of systematic implementation of daily rituals, I’ve created space in which I can listen to my inner voice and hear my inner wisdom. In this space, I take inventory of my ideas. I review them in the context of my vision and purpose, my current priorities, and my available resources. This helps me decide:

  • which must be nurtured further; and
  • which I can release to the universe for someone else to take it.

Creating Internal Space: A Secret Productivity Hack

Creating the space for this process has had a bigger impact on my productivity than any technology hack or shortcut. I am more productive because I’m no longer trying to create on multiple fronts at the same time. I’ve learned to let go of ideas. Even the brilliant ones. They are just ideas; I will get more.

This is not just about freeing up time. Time is of little value without energy to create. Every idea and project — even those on the “someday” list — consumes our energy. The more we have floating around, the less focus and presence we can give to what’s in front of us. Holding space for too many things at once becomes an energy leak. The long-term result of an energy leak is burnout.

The work I do in my internal space — the ability to let go and prioritize — keeps me focused on what I truly feel passionate about creating. When you create from your passion and a spacious internal environment, things flow with more ease.

Lesson 3: Cultivation and Implementation Require Self-Trust

My daily ritual practice, was initially motivated by my desire to create space for my best work: generating ideas and operating from a place of intention, instead of reaction. Over time, that space nurtured something even more essential to my creative process: self-trust.

Self-trust is what allows the process of cultivation and implementation.

Self-Trust: Another Secret Productivity Hack

This isn’t on a typical list of productivity hacks, but it should be. Here’s how self-trust has boosted my productivity:

Before I began this process, I would start down a path but quickly switch to a different idea at the first obstacle or if someone questioned what I was doing. I gained no traction because I was constantly switching from one idea to the next. Every time we switch paths, we start from the beginning again. The result: I was doing a lot of moving without moving forward.

Resilience is a Red Herring

You might be tempted to attribute this to a lack of resilience, discipline, willpower or grit — all the buzzwords of the entrepreneurial age. That’s what I thought, too, until I looked at my life and saw those qualities in abundance in other areas of my life.

What I lacked was not resilience or discipline, but self-trust. Every external doubt or skepticism added strength to my inner critic’s voice. Without a strong inner compass to guide me, I was like a plastic bag in a windstorm, blowing wherever the winds took me. Some people who lack self-trust stick may with a plan simply because they perceive no other options. In my case, there was always another option. My creativity became an albatross: with so many ideas constantly flowing to me, it was easy to switch to a perceived better path.

This finally began to change as I deepened into my daily rituals practice. Instead of responding to the pings of other peoples’ urgencies, I create the space to listen to my inner wisdom. At first, I didn’t hear much. The inner wisdom speaks in a quiet whisper, and, even with my phone on Do Not Disturb, the sound of the internal pings drowned her out. Over time, those noises have faded, and I can her voice louder.

Strengthening my self-trust boosted my immunity to the skeptics and cynics. It also fortified the boundaries I set around my sacred space. The rewards I get from operating in my sacred space reinforce my decisions. This further boosts my productivity and my self-trust.

It’s a virtuous cycle.

The TL;DR Version

I know… you don’t have time to read it all (you would if you gave yourself the space…). Here’s the TL;DR:

  • The standard advice to “implement” ideas skips a crucial step.
  • We must cultivate our ideas before we begin to act on them.
  • Idea cultivation is a process through which we evaluate whether the idea fits with our vision, is ready, and whether we have the resources to implement it.
  • Creating internal space is crucial for us to learn to hear our inner wisdom and engage in the process of cultivation.
  • Cultivation and implementation require self-trust.
  • Self-Trust is a secret productivity hack.
  • When we silence the pings to create this space, we boost self-trust, productivity and open the door to new ideas. This creates a virtuous cycle.
  • The doubters and the skeptics and the people who ask way too many questions at the mere flash of an idea will always be around. Doubts are like infectious diseases; you must boost your immunity to them.

How Can You Apply This?

Give yourself the space to hear your inner voice. Learn how to listen to your instincts and intuition. Learn how to trust yourself.

Trust is a muscle; it must be strengthened just like you would strengthen your quads or biceps. It happens in small increments over a long period. Dedicate yourself to the process.

Finally, remember that just because other people have no vision doesn’t mean you have to be blind.

Do you want to clear the space to cultivate your ideas and self-trust? That’s what we’re going to do in The Ritual Revolution, my exclusive small-group experience in which I’m going to teach you how I created sustainable daily rituals that have boosted my productivity, self-trust and income.

Enrollment is capped because I want to give each participant personal attention. If this resonates for you, please click here to register your interest. I’ll be in touch to schedule a complimentary consultation. Don’t let someone else build a business off of your next great idea.

This was originally published at on June 21, 2017.

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