Just as I am putting shampoo on my head, the idea hits me. It’s an incredible idea; likely an idea that will make jaws drop. I can’t stop thinking about the idea through breakfast, and my commute is then dedicated to adding more details to the idea. Shoot, by the time I get to work, I’m near tears due to the magnitude of this idea. The elevator ride to the eleventh floor is dedicated to me practicing being humble when people start gushing all over the idea.
When I get to my office, I go straight to MS Word to get it down in a proposal. Ten minutes into writing it occurs to me that I am out of my routine. I’m supposed to be procrastinating right now. But not today….today I am dedicated to changing the world with my idea. It won’t be long before I get awarded the Order of the Founder.
Bam. It’s done.
The proposal is finished and like Ralphie, once my superiors see my work they will immediately write A++++++++++ all over the walls. My peers in all likelihood will lift me on their shoulders and shout their praises. Time to hit send before anyone thinks I will shoot my eye out.
Moments later my superiors call me in to meet about the idea. This is it. Carpe Diem.
“Jim, I hope you know how much we appreciate you. We love your enthusiasm and your desire to think of new things. But we have discussed your proposal and have decided that we won’t move forward with it. But please keep the ideas coming!”
Keep the ideas coming?? How could I when this idea was the best thing ever?
Can you relate? While I fabricated this story (I really did), getting the idea turned down that you believe is huge can be crushing. I have had many ideas turned down in my working career. So how do you cope with this type of rejection? Here is what I learned—and if I am honest, still trying to accept.
1. Your idea is likely not new and/or may have been tried before. Too often we get so wrapped up in ourselves that we forget that we stole the idea in the first place or didn’t take the time to research if it has been done before.
Suggestion: Let your idea marinate a bit. Share your idea with others and gather insight and wisdom from trusted confidants. If the idea isn’t new and is a reboot, do your research to find out why it didn’t work the first time and offer a suggestion on how it could work better this time.
2. Your timing may be bad. I have had several projects fail over the years because I pushed them too fast. I didn’t have it all together and rolled it out unfinished. Expect for an incredibly rocky road if you push a product out unfinished.
Suggestion: Create an idea farm. I use a whiteboard on my desk that has ideas scribbled on it. They sit on my desk so they can stare at me every day. I dedicate moments each day to chew on those ideas and allow them to grow naturally. Some ideas have sat on the board for years. In my experience, God speaks to you through the ideas and gives you the right moment for you to pursue His will. It’s our responsibility to be patient and obedient and allow Him to dictate your timeline.
3. It may not be a good idea! Yep, it’s true. Our ideas aren’t always good. While they may be good for you, they may not be good for others. The greater good should always win out.
Suggestion: Do everything in your power to not take it personally. Easier said than done, I understand that. But the reality is that it is not possible to hit a homerun every time at bat. I tend to dissect the so-called bad idea and take in suggestions to see if it is possible to make it into a good idea. However, you also need to keep it in your head that it may just be a bust. I file bust ideas and go back and look at them every once in awhile. Who knows? Maybe one day it will be a good idea. But for now, you have to move on. Full disclosure: none of mine have turned into doable ideas yet.
4. It may not fall in line with the larger vision. Many of our ideas are good, but just don’t make sense to further the larger mission of your team. Or often there are decisions being made behind closed doors that won’t allow the idea to happen. Those are the ideas you will look back on and say to yourself, “Ahhhh, I get it now.”
Suggestion: I like to talk my ideas out with people that might not agree with traditional thoughts or work in a totally different area than me. It’s the easiest way to get a look at the idea from ranging viewpoints. I will also get an understanding of how my idea will fit in their passion area. The more you do this, the better perspective you will get on your immediate idea and future ideas.
5. Your idea may not be complete. Sometimes we struggle getting our vision down on paper. I know I struggle with it greatly. So while it may make sense to us, it is incomplete in the decision-maker’s eyes. They don’t have the context you do, so they struggle to comprehend your agenda.
Suggestion: Feedback, feedback, feedback. I have a range of people I run ideas through. I ask the same questions, “Does that make sense?” “What does this look like to you?” “Do you understand what I am trying to achieve?” More often than not, the answers come back with more questions for me due to lack of information. It is easy to get frustrated by this response. But you need to understand that this is a good thing. It means you aren’t communicating it clearly enough. Go back and rework the idea and go through the cycle again.
I leave you with a formula that I use as I pursue new concepts and ideas:
- Plant the idea on the farm.
- Let it marinate.
- Get feedback.
- Reconstruct the weak spots.
- Wait and move when God tells you to.
- If approved, execute wisely with support.
- Remind self: While your idea may get approved it will always need some fixing and will inevitably be hard work. So keep working.
- Don’t gloat. No one likes gloaters.
- Give God all the glory and be obedient to His will.