Janine, a friend of mine, said to me once that she never has ideas. “Of course, you have ideas!”, I told her, “you just don’t recognise them”. She looked at me in amazement.
Many people think they never have good ideas when, in actuality, they don’t know how to look out for them. As we know, if you want to get good at anything, then you have to practice and that is what you have to do with ideas. Then you will be good at finding them!
With practice you can get yourself to the point when you have a good idea, you will recognise it as such and then the next stage is for you to convince others of its worth. “It’s a really great idea; why can’t you see that — it’s so obvious!” might be the cry from someone trying to justify their creative thinking.
In reality, having an idea is one thing but getting others to buy into it, give their support and take action on it is another. We can all look back and think back to a time when an idea came into our head, only to do nothing about it until someone else did it and then you thought “But that was my idea...”. The big difference was that someone else also had the idea but they took action and made it a reality.
I remember, some years ago, attending a committee meeting of the International Stress Management Association, in London, at which I came up with the idea of creating a National Stress Awareness Day for the UK. The aim of the day would be to highlight the importance of recognising and managing stress and putting these issues on the national agenda.
I remember looking around at my fellow executive members and they all said, “Great idea, do it!” Excited, I said: “But we don’t have a budget!”. They agreed. So my first task was to obtain sponsorship and with the support of my team and a tremendous amount of hard work, we made my vision become a reality. I solicited the backing of the executive to go ahead, and with the trust they had in me — that was enough. Now, fast-forward 12 years, in the UK and abroad, we have Stress Awareness Day where different educational initiatives take place.
So, from one small idea, articulated at a committee meeting many years ago, then adopted and acted upon by a group of enthusiastic professionals to an international Stress Awareness Day... it is an achievement which I am still proud of. From small acorns, large oak trees grow and you can plant your own acorn. You just need to find it, plant it, water it, watch it and care for it.
However, for an idea to become a reality, there needs to be a process.
· Think creatively of your idea and the rationale behind it.
· Persuade others of the efficacy of the proposal.
· Outline the benefits and value, and why others should support it.
· Listen to constructive critique.
· Motivate others and get the right people on board.
· Make a business and marketing plan.
· Be totally committed.
· Don’t take “No” for an answer.
· Be resilient.
· Focus on your idea but be open to modify your thinking.
Of course, there will be obstacles, but like stones in the road, you need to find ways either to remove them or go around them.
Not everyone will immediately see the value of your idea. There will be those who won’t understand what you are trying to do and who might view you as competition to them. This is not unusual.
Others may see you as a threat to them and their role. They may also be jealous or resentful that they didn’t think of your idea themselves.
To counteract this, it is important to try and involve those people in the process so that they don’t feel excluded or isolated. Everyone has something to offer, so it is up to you to make sure you bring together a team of people and value their individual contributions.
So how about a Stress Awareness day in the UAE? Anyone interested to work alongside me for this one? I’d love to make this idea become a reality.
Key Learning Points:
* Ideas can and do become a reality.
* Have the right team around you.
* Be committed and follow-through.
— The author is a BBC Guest-Broadcaster and Motivational Speaker. She is CEO of an international Stress Management consultancy and her new book, ‘Show Stress Who’s Boss!’ is available in all good bookshops.