This blog is called Bursts of Brilliance because that’s what it feels like when you get a great idea, like the heavens opened up and handed you a gift. But that gift will pass you by if you don’t seize it. And it will wither on the vine if you don’t nurture it. I’ve seen far too many brilliant ideas fall apart because people, myself included, listened to the wrong person at the wrong time.
If your idea is your baby, you must treat it like one. You must protect it from anyone who wishes it harm, even if that person is your best friend or your mother or your spouse. So be careful who you first share your concept with. Choose someone who loves to ideate, someone who is good at brainstorming, someone who will share your excitement and put your feet in motion.
If you start to doubt that you are the one to build your idea, seek out that friend who is nothing but encouraging, the one who says things like, “You’re kidding, right? You’re a genius. You can do anything you set your mind to!” Fill up on her words of praise and move forward.
Now maybe you need the voice of someone who’s good at strategy, someone who can fill the gaps in your knowledge or skills base. “Sounds great, but you need a plan. How about if you start here . . .”
When you’re stuck and tempted to give up, call that friend who always offers just the right amount of push. The one who will reassure you that you have what it takes, you just need to apply yourself. “Quit your whining and figure it out. You know you can do this. This is your baby, no one else’s.”
At a certain point, when you’re feeling strong enough, you’ll want to seek out that “wet blanket” friend. “Go ahead,” you might say. “Poke holes in this idea. I want to see what I’m missing.”
If that person has beaten you up too badly, turn to the friend who makes any problem seem funny, because sometimes the only thing to do is laugh.
Lastly, you want to think about those mavens or favorite clients or colleagues who will champion your idea and be the first to get behind it, the first to buy it, the first to sing its praises and recommend it widely. They are the ones whose words of praise are going to echo in your ears, but also the ones who are going to move your idea forward.
It’s important, especially to artists and entrepreneurs who often work alone, to think carefully about the type of feedback we want and when. Whenever I find myself feeling agitated, I say, “Whose voice do I need in my head right now?” And then I pick up the phone and call.