Are we there yet?

"Are we there yet?" by Greg Alder
“We need some ideas and we need them today.”

Ever been in this position? It can be scary. It’s hard enough to come up with ideas, without the added pressure of a deadline.

Sometimes it’s even worse.

“We need some ideas, we need them today and they’d better be good or we’ll lose the business.”

Now, in addition to the stress of coming up with ideas, we start worrying about what might happen if we lose the client. We will lose our job. We won’t be able to pay the mortgage. We’ll have to move to a cheaper suburb. We’ll have to take the kids out of private school.

It isn’t always others who place pressure on us. We do it ourselves. We desperately want to impress our client, our boss and our colleagues. We believe our career depends on us wowing with a big idea – and delivering it on time.

So now we find ourselves sitting, one eye on the clock, desperately searching for a big idea.

It might be an idea for a product launch, a community event or a garden design. It might be ideas to overcome a transport problem, a full warehouse or customer complaints.

“We need an idea, an impressive one, and we have 3 hours to get it.”

Our fingers hover at the keyboard, ready to write it down the moment we get it. They twitch impatiently. They wait. And they wait.

The deadline rushes at us menacingly. Our palms begin to sweat. Our metabolism speeds up. Our minds begin to wander. We get angry with ourselves for not focusing.

And then it happens! We get an idea. An idea that we like. An idea we think our client will like.

The relief is palpable. We breathe out. Disaster has been averted. We can stop searching for ideas. We have it. We even begin to get excited for the moment we’ll get to present our idea.

And … this … is … exactly … the … wrong … thing … to … do.

We stop at this idea, the one we believe everyone will love, the one that ticks all the right boxes.

The thing is, as good as it is, there’s a better idea out there. And another idea that’s even better still. And somewhere there’s an idea that’s more audacious, more original, less expected, more exciting and scarier than all of them.

This is the idea that could make you a household name, an industry hero or a millionaire. But you won’t find it because you’ve stopped looking.

Next time you need a big idea, don’t stop at the first one you like. Don’t stop until you have twenty of them. Or fifty. Or a hundred. (And it’s easy to get this many in just one hour once you have learnt some creative thinking techniques.)

Keep going.

There’s no deadline for business creativity.

Idea generation isn’t a destination.

There is no upper limit to originality.

The creative journey has no end.

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