Goshen News, Goshen, IN

February 24, 2013

WHOLE FAMILY: Bright-idea people sometimes can’t take charge


— Bright ideas! Ever known someone who seems to have them all the time? He or she is the kind of person serially declaring, “You should try this” or “That would make a good project” or, dreamily, “It’d be neat if we did this.”

To these dreamers, the world is a plush, colorful and abundant garden teeming with delicious ingredients for exotic or nutritious or beautiful meals or tinctures or pretties to be made. “Oh, the possibilities” they breathe as they survey the proverbial land.

That, friends, is me.

For the record, I believe many idea people are simply vibrant thinkers, synthesizers if you will. I’m convinced there is, truly, nothing new under the sun and thus no absolutely original idea. In fact, you won’t hear me use the word “create” for most things we humans do.

Instead, people like me have a knack for pulling pieces together, for *fashioning* or *assembling* concepts or projects or initiatives or goals. Ever known someone who sees three ingredients in the fridge and sees a gourmet meal? Yeah, I don’t do it with food – I prefer to avoid the kitchen most days – but I do it in life in general quite often.

There are so many things we all could do.

And I am positive I drive people nuts, especially those closest to me. I see friends visibly stiffen sometimes, like they’re thinking, “Here she goes again. I feel a project coming on. Ech. We’re just having coffee!”

It’s to the point I recite a short intro, sort of a “get-ready” preface with an “I’m-just-thinking-out-loud” clause, before I plop a new one on my tolerant and laid-back husband who, by covenant marriage, is required to endure me and my ideas.

He listens, but warily. That’s because most of my ideas, in one way or another, mean work for him. I dream them up; he, often, carries them out.

And therein lies problem No. 1 with idea people. They’re usually good thinkers, visionaries even, but they don’t always deliver when it comes to implementing their brilliant concepts. There’s a colossal difference between dreaming up a project and having the know-how or ability to carry it out.

I made a related mistake recently — plowed ahead with a really good idea without completing the due diligence necessary to have a plan that would, actually, work. It was such a good idea and we had so much excitement about it, I figured it would all just fall together. No.

I plowed, then, right into a wall, crashing others with me. Some were hurt, even, painfully reminding me it’s not enough to have a good idea with good intentions. You have to know what to do with your stuff.

Clearly, I don’t want to make that mistake again – though I’ll need room to make other mistakes, I’m sure.

So I’ve been thinking.

While I’m confident I won’t stop dreaming up projects — frankly, I don’t want to stop, for it provides reassurance my brain is firing — I do see it’s time for me to be a little smarter about what I do with all the prospects. There is an art, maybe a science, to sorting through ideas, choosing a few and then successfully implementing them.

Enter Google, right? Turns out, you can Google anything, and the phrase “share your ideas” yielded me 4.8 million results. “Implement your ideas” got 9.7 million!

There can be a method to this madness, something of which I decided to remind myself.

So, if you’re an idea person — or you’re married to one or you parent one — there are a few key concepts to remember.

• There’s nothing wrong with being a dreamer. The world needs all kinds, thinkers and dreamers and synthesizers included. So, be free to dream and think. If you’re like me, you can’t help it anyway.

• Keep a bright-idea journal or notebook. Jot down all those brainstorms without editing yourself. That means no matter how far-fetched it seems, it’s OK to put it there. You have to put it somewhere, don’t you?

• When it comes to considering which ideas to actively pursue executing, use objective measures to help you decide. Do I have the time, money, skills and whatever else it would take to carry this out? Who will be affected, and are those people OK with that? Count the costs.

• Solicit the input — and, often, services – of other people, particularly when you get to the execution stage. Already noted, but not all idea people are good at managing their projects. If that’s you, find someone or some model to do it. If you’re able to both think it up and carry it out, great. Still, you’re going to need help, so find people and other resources to help with the work. Let others be a reality check to your dreaming, too.

• Lastly, share! More than likely, bright-idea people have more ideas than they can ever do anything with. But others might like to use them. Definitely watch out for saying, “You should …” to people — they often don’t like that — but feel free to offer your ideas when it seems right to do so. Cheer them on, too — if you’re not too busy yourself.

Goshen News columnist Stephanie Price is a wife, mother, teacher, childbirth educator, doula, midwife’s assistant and student nurse pursuing a minor in complementary health from Elkhart. Contact her at wholefamily@goshennews.com, 269-641-7249 or on Facebook at the page “Whole Family Column by Steph Price.”