The Birth Of An Idea

In any given moment, we are surrounded, in vast quantities: millions upon millions of them, crowding and jostling for our attention. Some people become overwhelmed by them. Some try to create relationships with them. Some people ignore them totally.

But sometimes the ideas that envelop us cannot be ignored. Ideas want to be born, and for survival of the species Ideus Commonalis necessitates a volume game. A frog has to kiss a lot of girls to find the one who can turn him into a prince, and ideas know they have to be equally promiscuous to find their own midwife.

This is why each of us has many thousands more ideas than we could ever implement. “You know what they should do,” we say, and, “Wouldn’t it be great if someone invented…?”

When ideas are ready to be born, they become stronger, more demanding of human attention. They knock on more doors, more loudly and more insistently. “Listen to me!” they cry. “I’m ready! I can work! Make me happen! Make me real!” And our language changes as well, from “You know what they should do,” to, “You know what I’m going to do?”

As ideas get stronger, they also take on more definition. Instead of whispering to us, they begin to speak loudly, clearly: “I know you had this sort of abstract concept about how people could connect computers to each other, but look at me now! I’m the Internet, ready to be invented!”

Because ideas become so powerful just before birth, more and more people begin to notice them. As such, they are often assisted in this final gestation phase by a variety of humans, each supporting the idea to metamorphose into physical form. Sometimes, we are in a race to see who can be the first to give birth to the idea (see motor cars). Sometimes, we are working simultaneously on identical theories without even realizing it. Sometimes, if the idea is too big for any one person, it brings multiple people together around it, all of us working collaboratively to transform an abstract concept into a tangible reality.

And then… success. An idea is born. But, like human infants, ideas cannot survive on their own immediately after birth. They require nurturing, attention, and education before they mature enough to go out on their own. They have to experience the contrast between the imagined and the actual, test their wings and their legs and their mettle in real-world conditions, and see if all the effort was even worth it.

The process isn’t a straight shot from idea to reality. It goes from idea to concept, to model, to prototype, to event, to project, to company, to -- just possibly -- game-changer. And the mortality rate is high. Most ideas never even make it to prototype. Millions more die before ever becoming a company. And from company to game-changer… well, let’s just say you’re more likely to be bit by a pig than bit by a shark, and both of those things are more likely than creating a game-changing company.

But those ideas need us. Their survival depends on us. So don’t leave them hanging, un-midwifed. Bring them into this world. Show them love. Develop them. Help them grow into their limitless potential.

If they make it through their treacherous childhood, they’ll thank you for it.

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3 comments about "The Birth Of An Idea".
  1. Ted Rubin from The Rubin Organization / Return on Relationship , May 4, 2012 at 2:26 p.m.
    It’s the uncharted experiences, not the guided tours, which truly help us “create” ourselves, our communities and our world. Listen to the inner nudge to do something different and go in a way that intuition leads you—follow your dreams and desires rather than in someone else’s footsteps—that is how innovatin begins... and "just doing it" is the only way it can become reality. Dreaming is an act of creation, and it’s the wellspring of innovation. So don’t stifle your inner creator; feed it, and open yourself and the world to new possibilities.
  2. Kaila Colbin from Missing Link , May 4, 2012 at 5:58 p.m.
    Thanks, Ted! "Dreaming is an act of creation..." I love that.
  3. Mike Mcgrath from RealXstream PTY LTD , May 7, 2012 at 5:48 p.m.
    Walt Disney, one of the best creative minds of last century had a special technique for realizing ideas based on a 3 stage iteration process, each requiring a very different focus. This may be helpful for anyone trying to do the same... http://www.wiredportfolio.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/DisneyPaper.pdf