There are lots of things in this world that people get addicted to: alcohol, nicotine, heroin, sex, and iPhones just to name a few.
But perhaps the biggest addiction of them all is the addiction to our own ideas.
Here’s how it works:
We think something up. We feel a buzz. We tweak it, we name it, we pitch it, and POOF, the addiction begins.
At first, like most habits, it’s a seemingly casual pursuit with a thousand positive side effects: increased energy, renewed focus, and a general feeling of well-being.
Like wow, man. But then…
We think about it in the shower. We think about it in the car. We think about it when people are asking us to think about other things.
We even dream about it.
Soon we want everyone to know about our idea. We want them to feel the buzz. We want them to nod in agreement. We want them to recognize just how pure our fixation is.
If this is where it ended, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. I wouldn’t be calling it an addiction. Maybe I’d be calling it an “inspiration,” or a “commitment” or a “visitation from the Muse.” But it doesn’t end here. It goes on and on and on and on — and often, to our own detriment.
If you have a business, of course, you want to conjure up cool ideas. That’s a good thing. But if you cling to ideas just because they’re yours, or just because you’ve invested major mojo in them, then it’s definitely time to rethink where you’re coming from.
The story behind the creation of the iPhone is a good example of what I’m talking about.
Steve Jobs and his Apple team had to face the music and back off their own addiction to what they had created in order to create something even greater.
Here’s what Steve had to say about the matter:
“There always seems to come a moment (when what you’re doing) is not quite working. Take the iPhone. We had a different enclosure design for the iPhone until way too close to the introduction to ever change it. And I came in one morning, and I said ‘I just don’t love this. I can’t convince myself to fall in love with this. And this is the most important product we’ve ever done.
So we pushed the reset button. We went through all the zillions of models we made and ideas we’d had… It was hell because we had to go to the team and say, ‘All the work you’ve done for the last year, we’re going to have to throw it away and start over, and we’re going to have to work twice as hard now because we don’t have enough time.’
And you know what everybody said, ‘Sign us up.’
That happens more than you think because this is not just engineering and science. There is art, too. Sometimes when you’re in the middle of one of these crises, you’re not sure you’re going to make it to the other end. But we’ve always made it, and so we have a certain degree of confidence, although sometimes you wonder.”
Mitch Ditkoff is the Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions and the author of “Awake at the Wheel”, as well as the very popular Heart of Innovation blog.