If you’re anything like me, you have lots of ideas. I mean lots.
Some are grand, like wanting to write a book. Others are small, maybe a new way of doing something.
They’re creative and inspiring. But they’re not always good.
Most lack any real substance to take them through to fruition. They don’t get developed. And I wind up in a sea of mediocre wishes.
I realized something a while back. The problem wasn’t that I had ideas, it’s that I was going after every one of them. The real key to a good idea is waiting to see if it has any pull.
I go to the same beach in North Carolina every summer. One of my favorite things to do after sitting on the beach in the sweltering sun for a while is to ride waves. I don’t surf or boogie board, I just let the waves carry me. It’s an incredible feeling to catch a wave just right and let the raw power of the ocean carry you back to shore.
The first few times I tried it, however, I couldn’t catch a wave to save my life. I would swim into one and it would pass me right by. I would watch others ride theirs all the way to the shore and get up grinning and laughing with the satisfaction of taking it all the way. What were they doing differently?
They were waiting
What I found out is that it has less to do with the look of the wave than the pull of the wave. Just because a wave looked good didn’t mean it would last. It might break shortly after I tried to take off in it. The ones you want to ride are the ones with good pull. You can feel them coming just before it’s time to take off. The stronger the pull, the more power the wave has.
Ideas have pull too.
When I look back on my life and the ideas I’ve had, I think the same is true. Ideas I thought were great turned out to to be flops. The ones that ended up delivering are those that had great pull to begin with. They had the power to carry me through early on.
I spend most of my free time writing, so I’ll use that as an example. This blog was an idea that had pull. I believe it was God-inspired to begin with, it had a strong brand name, and it was open-ended enough that I could mold it as I went and see what would make it successful.
I didn’t start this as a way to be a successful blogger. I didn’t even know what that meant 2 years ago. I started it because I wanted to find my voice. I remember coming back home from a run with my wife and just spewing out that I wanted to start a blog and it was going to be called A Parched Soul.
It was so clear to me that’s what I was going to do. I’m not sure I’ve had anything else be as clear in my life, besides wanting to be married to my wife and have children.
That’s an idea that has pull
The other extreme is an idea with very little pull, one that looks good from far away but lacks any real power when you see it up close.
My recent endeavor to write a book is a perfect example of this. Writing a book is an enigma for people. It escapes them. It’s hard to do. But to have written one, well that sounds very accomplished. I wanted to have that feeling. I still do. But what I found, was that, at least for right now, that idea has no pull in my life. I’m not at the point where writing a book even makes sense.
I didn’t have an inspired subject to write about. I had good ideas, sure, but they weren’t so clear to me that I had to write the book. Luckily, I was able to get off that path early on before dumping hours and hours of my life into it and finding out the idea had no pull to begin with.
Do your ideas have pull? Are you chasing after too many ideas?