Cultivating the Value of Ideas

by Mitch Ditkoff

Cultivating the Value of IdeasEverything begins as an idea.

Whether you’re in business, school, jail, or debt, that’s how it all gets rolling. First there’s the idea, then there’s the manifestation of the idea — assuming, of course, that the person with the idea has their act together.

If you have any doubt, take a look around you.

Everything you see began as an idea: The microchip, the chocolate chip, the fishing net, the internet, the company you work for, and the company you keep. All of it. Everything. Even the Universe, some say, began as an idea in the mind of the Creator. There are two schools of thought on this subject.

The first ascribes the origin of ideas to the efforts of inspired individuals who, through a series of spontaneously occurring or purposeful mental processes, arrive at a useful new possibility.

The second school ascribes the appearance of ideas to a transcendent force, a.k.a. the “Collective Unconscious,” the “Platonic Realm,” the “Muse,” or the “Mind of God.”

According to this perspective, ideas are not created, but already exist, becoming accessible to human beings who have tuned themselves enough to be able to receive them.

The first approach is usually considered Western, with a strong bias towards thinking. It is best summarized by Rene Descartes “I think therefore I am” maxim. Most business people subscribe to this approach, as it gives great weight to the power of the mind.

The second approach is usually considered Eastern, with a strong bias towards feeling. It is best summarized by the opposite of the Cartesian view: “I am therefore, I think.” Most artists and creative types are associated with this approach, with its focus on intuitive knowing — a way of understanding that does not lend itself to analysis and quantification.

Both approaches are valid. Both are effective. And both are used at different times by all of us, depending on our mood, circumstances, and conditioning. No matter what our preferred approach, however, the challenge remains the same for all of us: how to honor, develop and manifest our ideas. This is a challenge made increasingly more difficult these days by the fact that, somehow, ideas have gotten a bad rap. If you have one (and most of us do), chances are good you usually apologize before talking about it (if you talk about it at all) with some variation of “Uh… er… um… it’s just an idea.” Most of us, in fact, have made a habit of discounting ideas — in ourselves and in others. “A dime a dozen” is all we think they’re worth.

And so the prophecy comes true.

Our ideas are diminished, not because they are worthless, but because we do not know how to elicit their value. We do not understand how to cultivate them. Afraid we will be judged, or worse, fail — we toss them out long before their time. Like Jack’s mother, of Beanstalk fame, we throw our magic beans out the window, doubting they had any real value in the first place.

Excerpted from Awake at the Wheel

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Mitch DitkoffMitch 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.

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