Idea development cycle

Ideas come and go. Some stick with us longer, some come only for brief visits. Inspiration and motivation do not last forever. It has a short lifespan after which it disappears. No matter how exciting and innovative your idea is – it will not seem as cool one week from now. Two weeks later it will lose its shine and become “just another one”. After the third week, it’s a burden. You will find it hard to motivate yourself to push the needle further. This will give you anxiety and a sense of guilt. If you are stubborn enough, you will endure another week, until you ditch your idea. As a result: wasted four weeks of life, guilt and depression. You will feel empty on the inside. She left you because you couldn’t satisfy her needs. You feel like a loser. You doubt your abilities. The next time you will think twice before attempting the new project. You failed to develop your ideas a hundred times before, so why do you think it will work out this time? You don’t even want to try because you don’t want to disappoint yourself. I get that.

Ideas are not what we used to think of them. They are so much more. They are alive.

At the beginning of your relationship with the new idea, it gives you the maximum amount of energy – the push. Imagine the rocket getting off the ground. The rocket is the idea. Over the course of two-three weeks, the fuel level getting lower and the rocket slows down. An interesting fact is that you can not use too much fuel. You don’t control the amount of energy that is being dispensed to you. It won’t decrease if you were to work days and nights. Neither will it increase if you don’t do anything and just dream about it. The “idea energy” is mainly influenced by time. Time is your enemy, not the lack of resources. It works this way with ALL the ideas, no exceptions. Once inspired – the clock starts ticking. You have a finite amount of time to do something about it.

Let’s imagine that this is really how inspiration works – the fact. What can you do with this knowledge? How can you use it, so the next time you move a bit further with your ideas? How can you prevent yourself from losing inspiration and maintain the energy high?

Be strategic. The next time you get inspired by a new idea, realize that the timer went off. It’s a race. You are running the sprint, not the marathon. You are given the motivation and energy only for a short period of time. Some inspirations last longer, some shorter. Some stay only overnight and the next morning they are gone. Over time you will learn yourself and you will be able to estimate the inspiration intensity. You will be able to approximate how long it will last this time. On average – two-three weeks.

First, you need to understand that everything in life works in cycles. There are big and small cycles. There are yearly and daily cycles. There are cycles within cycles… within cycles. That’s deep. Did I lose you here?

The axis graph describes the idea development cycle. The level of “inspiration energy”. After the initial inspiration had reached it’s lowest point, a person typically drops his work. However, sometimes another person gets inspired by that same idea. You tell a guy at the bar or someone whom you respect. He or she believes that this is something great and you feel the energy come back.

YOU can’t fully develop the idea on your own.
YOU need other people’s energy to keep the momentum going.

I would like you to think of a pendulum. Once you get inspired, you get the momentum. The pendulum swings for a period of time and generates energy. You get this energy in form of motivation and as I already mentioned – inspiration. You get things done. Over time, momentum dies down and the pendulum produces less energy. Lethargy, lack of motivation, depression etc…

In order to keep things moving, you need to gain and maintain that momentum. You need to inspire other people with your idea (pendulum). You will grow the pendulum by bringing new people in. As it swings faster, you and your peers will be drawing the energy from its momentum. …until the cycle brings you to the next lowest point.

Your problem is that you try to do everything by yourself. You try to figure things out and solve the problem by yourself. You want all the rewards. You can’t let go of control.

I want you to be strategic. Don’t try to fully develop the idea or solve the problem during the initial inspiration stage. The energies are high and you optimistic. You want to change the world and all that bullshit. That’s cool, but it’s nothing but a waste of this precious time. You need to be wise with the use of the “idea energy”.

When next time you get inspired with a new idea:

  1. Act as fast as possible. Forget about sleep, there is no time. The highs you experience right now will dissolve in time. The energy will go away. What will you be left with once its gone?
  2. Plan your actions after inspiration goes away. What will you do, when the idea don’t seem as appealing as it did two-three weeks ago? Are you going to abandon it? Will you find an excuse not to continue?

The time of maximum inspiration is given to Shape the idea and pass it along.

The idea is in your head. No one can see, touch or smell it. It’s intangible. You need to give it birth on paper. Take it out and shape it into a format that it easy “consumable” and easy to understand. Don’t try to figure out how to make the idea work, where to find money, how to promote, how to sell etc. That’s important, but not right now. The timer is ticking and the pendulum loses its momentum. You need to convert this “inspiration energy” into an “idea prototype”. Draw the schematics, write the descriptions, make a 3D model, draw… You need to create something that you will use to communicate your idea to other people. Make it as simple as possible. A ten-year-old kid needs to be able to understand it. Make a presentation that will explain your idea to others. Broadcast your thoughts through the right channels. Try to show your idea to as many right people as possible.

Don’t lose the focus

Focus. While energies are high, your main task is to recruit as many people as possible. You need to inspire as many folks as you can. Forget about the business plans and all the “What ifs…”. Don’t let your mind go sideways and engage in solving the problems. There will be time for that, but for now, you need to recruit people into your team. You need to inspire others. They will keep the momentum going. Your “idea pendulum” needs people who believe in it.

Inspire others, before the energy dies down.

Use the initial burst of energy is given to create the draft – a very basic model which you will use to inspire others. If you want your idea to grow, you need to feed it with the energies of other people who believe in it. This is the key to success. Realize that you can’t keep the momentum going on your own.

Create → communicate → inspire → recruit

In the past, you were trying to build it on your own. You would hold your ideas imprisoned in your head. Sometimes you would write about them. Sometimes you would tell your friends and family. They thought it was cool, but they were not inspired by it. The idea pendulum didn’t get the energy to maintain the momentum.

How many ideas have you starved to death? That’s your problem. If you want to move the needle forward, you need others. Thinking that you can do everything on your own is your main limitation. Keeping the pendulum swinging is the key. Maintain the momentum. Inspire others so they feed their energies into the system.

You work on the wrong things at the wrong time. Don’t think ahead and solve all the problems overnight. Make a raw draft and tell others. “Who’s with me?”. No one? – Great! You just saved yourself a shit load of money and time. If your idea does not find supporters, move on to the next one.

Shape the idea.
bring the energy in.
Keep the momentum going.

Your job is to bring energy in. You need others to believe in your ideas and willing to share their energies for its development.