Today I had an idea. I’m not going to share it here (yet) because I’m still processing it, but I think it’s a good one. I think it came from my Muse. How do we know when we’re on to something potentially big, maybe even life changing? Is it possible that it’s a bad idea?
What is the difference between a good idea and a bad one? Perhaps the only bad ideas are the ones that haven’t been tried or haven’t been executed correctly. Assuming the idea doesn’t intentionally or unintentionally do harm, is it possible that all ideas have their merit? Do some ideas just come at the wrong time? Do some ideas just require time or patience or the persistence? In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell says 10,000 hours of work is required before one reaches success. Do some ideas need the right audience? An executive at Decca Records said to the Beatles, “guitar groups are on the way out” and “The Beatles have no future in show business.”
In the midst of the work, when the dream still hasn’t come true, and you realize there are no guarantees, you have three choices.
1. You stop. You stop wherever you are and don’t take one more step towards your dream. You decide that it’s too hard, or perhaps it really was the wrong choice. You gave it a good try and you’re even grateful for the experience, but this just isn’t for you. Sometimes this is the wisest course, as long as you decide that a wrong path simply means to keep looking for the right path.
2. You turn back. This is different from just stopping. When you stop, you have still come to a new place, just not the place you had hoped to be. When you turn back, you go back to the way things were. You return to the abusive relationship. You put the manuscript back in the drawer. You drop out of school. You don’t seek the promotion or the better job. You tell yourself, “I guess this is all there really is. I guess this is what I deserve.”
Please realize this for the lie it is. No one deserves to not reach his or her full potential. Many people choose this, but no one deserves it.
The third option is to Keep Going. This seems like the hardest, but it’s not. It’s harder to give up. Not initially, but eventually the price of quitting is often higher than the price of persisting. But to Keep Going is harder while you’re in the midst of the work. It takes time and energy and often there’s no payoff, literally or figuratively. And, as I said, there are no guarantees. To choose to keep going is to choose a lonely path because no one can go with you. Even if you have a companion or a partner, you still have to take the steps by yourself. To Keep Going, even when there’s a detour is the only path worth taking.