Where do you keep your great ideas? I have amazing, world-changing, summer camp-revolutionizing ideas written on Post-it notes, in my Moleskin notebook, and in my favorite online tool, Evernote.com.
But the problem with storing my ideas in these various locations is that they tend to stay there.
I was watching the business news the other day, and Martha Stewart was talking about entrepreneurs and the upcoming presidential elections. The reporter asked her what should an entrepreneur do during these troubled economic times?
Her answer was: “Start today! It is never the wrong time to start a good idea.”
I needed to hear that! I get ideas all the time, and some of them are actually good ones, but I have found there are a few things that can keep a good idea from taking shape and potentially changing the world.
IDEA KILLERS (Beware)
1. Writing it down in a notebook (and never taking action) – There is nothing wrong with writing down your ideas, but if they die there, it has done no good. Don’t look back on your career or life and say, “Look at all my ideas I had.” Look back and say, “This is what I accomplished.”
2. Telling it to a person (the wrong person) – Pick your trusted partners carefully. I have two close friends in the summer camp world that I openly talk with about my ideas. I trust them and I know I will get the feedback I need on any thought or idea I have.
3. Waiting until it’s perfect (instead of trying it) – I like to “fail fast”. I want to try something quickly to see it if is going to work, then make the necessary adjustments to get me to success.
4. Not learning from mistakes (and making the same one over and over again) – I am not that smart, but I don’t make the same mistake twice. Learn from mistakes so you can find success faster in the future.
Don’t put off your ideas another day!
I know the cycle we can fall into at summer camp. We have a great idea, then the brochure draft is due and we haven’t figured out how to fully market our new idea, so we put it off for another year because the brochure deadline is more important than impacting a kid’s life (yes, I just wrote that!).
Whatever it is that you have been planning, don’t let it sit on a piece of paper another day without figuring out whether or not you can do it. If you can do it, then let’s go! If you can’t, scrap it and move on to the next big idea.
Your work isn’t status-quo work, it is life changing.
Dave Bell has directed day and resident camp programs for more than 15 years. Currently, he is the Executive Director of the YMCA of Greater Louisville. He is a former American Camp Association Southeast Section board member, a certified Y-USA Day Camp Director Trainer and a Y-USA partner YMCA camp consultant. Reach him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.