How many times have you scrolled your way through social media or had a casual conversation with a group of friends when one of them mentions that they once had this great idea? They might say that after they signed up for Twitter or Facebook more than ten years ago, they thought it would be great to have a social network that was entirely focused on stylized photos. They might say that they thought of Instagram way before it became a thing.
Sure. Sure they did. But even if we were to take this claim at face value, we must then ask whether this friend actually acted on and pursued this idea. Did he look into what it would take to make such a mobile app? Did he hire a team of designers to create the interface? Did he work with a team of coders and engineers to develop the app? Did he negotiate with the suits at Facebook for a $1 billion acquisition? No. I didn’t think so.
Many years ago, I had exactly one of these conversations while hanging out with some friends. I said that seat warmers were becoming increasingly common in luxury vehicles, but why can’t they have seat coolers too? And why can’t there be a cup holder or perhaps some kind of refrigerated compartment that could keep my drink cold? We all agreed these were good ideas, but none of us went about filing a patent or working with an engineer to see how it could be possible. Now both of those features are available on several cars. Where’s my royalty check? No. I didn’t think so.
Thinking Makes It So?
That’s the thing. Merely “thinking” of an idea is absolutely worthless on its own. Anyone can “think” of just about anything. And almost anyone can overthink about practically anything too, but until you actually put those thoughts into action, until you translate them into something that can be bought, sold, developed or monetized, they’re essentially worthless.
As cliche as it may sound, Nike was onto something with “Just do it.” They’re right.
How many times have you wished for better circumstances? Oh, I could make more money if only I had more free time to devote to this endeavor. Oh, I could start a blog, if only I had the technical know-how for getting started. That’s okay. I’ll get working on these ideas some day. Except some day never comes.
One of the single greatest things that hold people back from pursuing their passions and chasing their dreams or even trying out something new is a fear of failure. They don’t try, because they’re afraid they won’t succeed. It’s a legitimate fear. It’s absolutely true that you run a very high risk of failure whenever you venture into unfamiliar waters. But it’s untrue that failure is bad.
A Learning Experience
Let me give you a couple of examples from my own professional life. After I got started with blogging for a living many years ago, I thought about expanding my empire, so to speak. They say the best idea for your blog is when it is about your passion. You can always figure out the best way to monetize and promote it later. So, I launched a blog about fighting games like Street Fighter and Tekken. At the time, I wasn’t all that familiar with much bigger sites in this space.
The site still exists today, but it’s mostly dormant and very rarely gets updated. Is that a failure? Maybe. But I learned a lot through that process, both on the technical side with how to adapt a WordPress theme, and as a means of extending my network into the so-called fighting game community (FGC). More people know who I am and this has led to other work-related opportunities outside of fighting games.
Similarly, after I co-authored a book with John, I wanted to have a book where the byline was wholly mine. I thought about it for the longest time and it was a back burner project for far too long. But eventually, I did it and again, I learned a lot through that process.
I learned about the whole self-publishing process through Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace for Amazon. I learned about the formatting and design process for the book’s cover and contents. The actual sales of the book haven’t been as huge as I had hoped, but that doesn’t mean the experience wasn’t worthwhile. Just do it. Learn. And do it again.
Just Do It
If all you do is think about your ideas, you will never know what could have become of them. What if you had tried to create an Instagram before Instagram was a thing? What if you worked with engineers and patent lawyers to draft up cooled seats for automobiles? What if you wrote and published that book you’ve been itching to get out there for so long? What if? What if this? What if that?
Stop over-thinking it and just do it. It’ll be the best decision you ever make.