The world is not going to be overwhelmed by the genius of your idea. Betting the farm on the creativity and wisdom of certain ideas is a mistake leaders often make. It’s important to know that your ideas might not be that special.
There is no such thing as pure creativity. Even Mozart created in a context. His music expanded while in the Venetian court under the sway of Salieri, but even the King of Prussia said he used “too many notes.”
Good ideas don’t come in social isolation. Even Einstein didn’t rely on pure thought experiments alone, but developed and expanded previous theoretical works from Hendrick Lorentz and James Clerk Maxwell to build his theory of relativity.
The point is that if you are thinking of something there will be some who takes a dig at it or someone who has a similar idea or is capable beating you to the punch. That’s not to say anyone can be Mozart, it’s simply to say that Mozart had to get people to accept his music. It’s certainty not to say that their could have been another Einstein. It’s to say that it’s a possibility that the theory of relativity would have been discovered sooner or later. Mozart and Einstein were clearly geniuses, but their ideas had to be accepted and fall on fertile ground.
Because we are part of a social collective, because we share similar information, and because we are each vulnerable to the same trends and fads your idea, or some variation of your idea, is likely to emerge in the heads of those around you.
Today, more so than ever.
We live in a collective. Whether it’s a town board, a business, a university, or a marriage you aren’t the only actor. People around you will be considering the same problems or competing for the same market share you are. Our ideas emerge in a context and they are rooted in a shared experiences. If you come up with an idea that you think is original to you, there is a good chance someone else has had a similar thought.
It’s also the case that we share the same information. You aren’t the only person who follows industry, social, or technological innovations. Ideas are built off of existing knowledge, inspiration and innovation that is widely shared within a field, business, or social group.
Similarly, we live in a world of trends and fads. Trends shape the way people interact, meet, and see each other. They shape fashion principles to modes of communication. They shape the way we look at certain problems and ideas. If you thought social media was going to do wonders for your business—you weren’t alone.
As anyone working in organizations knows, good ideas usually aren’t enough to carry the day. If you ever felt that you knew exactly what had to be done in your organization, school, union, political party, and neighborhood but couldn’t get others to go along with you—you know firsthand that good ideas aren’t enough.
In order to succeed you need a bit more than genius and good ideas.