You'll never get to chapter two if your idea doesn't have enough heft to see it through.

You'll never get to chapter two if your idea doesn't have enough heft to see it through.

…there is always opportunity. Beginnings are always about ideas, the start of all things. Ideas beget possibilities. Even in the most dire circumstances--the beginnings of calamity, of catastrophe--there are always questions about what those events might mean the next day and then what might happen the day after that.

Capturing an idea shortly after it takes shape is like intercepting a bird moments after it leaps from a branch into space. That moment of interception is one of the trickiest, but most essential things to do if you're serious about bringing ideas to life. If the bird escapes and disappears into the tangled branches of your mental tree, or into the infinite void of the blue sky beyond, it's a fair bet that the idea wasn't ready to carry your dream. Capturing an idea early can be the difference between an engaging, enervating expression, or a moribund, trudging march. But once you're past the beginning, turning that idea into something tangible, self-sustaining, and relevant without losing your grip on it's innate qualities can be even trickier.

Often the ideas that get away are, by their very elusive nature, clues that they might not have been best suited to grow into something substantial. This is not to say that all substantial ideas need to show every detail of their ultimate potential at the moment of their inception. There are no doubt strong relationships in all of our lives that began without us realizing at first the significance that the person you are meeting is going to matter to you. But sparks lit in the beginning are often clues to what may blaze brightly later.

Most ideas that cause us to respond early in their life yield absolutely nothing. Ideas are far easier to generate than actual successes. It's like feeling an inexorable pull toward an attractive person: you only marry those you love, and love is harder to find than attraction. Said another way, it's far easier to be attracted to lots of people then it is to marry lots of people. Powerful ideas are far easier to generate than successful transformation of those ideas into meaningful creations. But all things must start with those initial moments of impetus. "In the beginning" is only a phrase that makes sense if we understand that there's a long list of other events to follow.

For creative people, it's essential to simultaneously refine initial ideas without relying on the same old solutions over and over. The hip, business school way of saying this is that you must "get out of your comfort zone". The fact is, it's true. In the beginning there are always ideas, and to turn those ideas into opportunities that might transform into meaningful existence, you cannot wait for all the elements to come to you. You must go find them. If an idea is a bird, don't expect it to come land in your hand. Climb the tree. Wear comfy, flexible clothes, and stretch, stretch, stretch for the next higher branch.

--Michael Starobin

P.P.S. You can follow me on Twitter @michaelstarobin

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