Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Catch & Release Those Great Ideas

I believe as an "article of faith" that: Ideas in motion add value, ideas at rest do not. As a result, idea flows are always more desirable than idea stocks.

If I continue the fishing metaphor from my last blog, to help me think differently about how to work with ideas, then the next most obvious lesson that I learned last week while fishing in the Adirondacks was the attractiveness of "catch & release" as a philosophy of fishing. Simply put, the Adirondack trout fisherman is obligated in most places to quickly release any fish that they may catch so as to spare the fish and give it the chance to grow into something bigger. Why not do the same thing with ideas? We all have ideas that we've stored away until that special day when we can put them to work. In most cases, if we're sober and honest, that "special" day will never come. Why not release that idea back into the flow -- smartly in order to send it off with the best chance for success, and perhaps with some type of linkage back to you -- but send it off nonetheless?

There are some additional metaphorical illustrations to make this proposal more vivid. I've long admired, for example, and belong to, a web-community called www.bookcrossing.com which is dedicated to releasing books "into the wild" after you have read them. I really love the idea of sharing a great read with someone I've never met before. Similarly, Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher, who formerly wrote the wine column for The Wall Street Journal, created the occasion that they called "Open That Bottle Night" to encourage readers to share that "special" bottle that they've been saving for a celebration with friends before it lost its luster. OTBN can be great fun when everyone brings their long-anticipated prize and shares not only the wine but the story that inevitably goes along with it. My hunch is that releasing ideas that you have affection for, but no realistic chance of seeing through to development, will create the same thrill of excitement that is offered by bookcrossing's or OTBN's shared treasures.

Think about how you can give life to an idea by putting it back into the flow. Why not release an idea this week?

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