You think, “Who wouldn’t want one?”
Then you ask your friends, “Do you want one?”
They say “Absolutely!”
You then ask yourself, “Now what?”
The raging wild fire of emotion begins to subside while you imagine the next steps. Soon, the spark of euphoria is doused with the cold water of doubt and confusion.
The remaining flame flickers when you recall Thomas Edison’s famous quote on what is ahead:
“Genius is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. Accordingly, a ‘genius’ is often merely a talented person who has done all of his or her homework.”
While your idea may only get you 1%, it is hard to imagine a more important 1% then an inspired idea. The more important question is, what now? You’re willing to commit to the 99% perspiration, yet you don’t have Edison’s Menlo Park research lab, telegraph invention experience nor his access to willing investors and customers.
Let’s say, your idea is a Digital Video Recorder (DVR) that records complete television shows. Now before you say this already exists, I have to ask if this has ever happened to you:
- You begin watching a recording of “60 Minutes” only to discover the first 40 minutes is a football game or golf tournament that overran.
- The recoding ends during the last minute of a game or just before the Best Picture Academy Award envelope is opened because it was past the scheduled end time.
We are romanticized by the genius of the idea (1%). We often glaze over the enablement (99%) that is required for the 1% to become famous. It is hard for us to imagine the enablement effort to write a book and have it rejected by twenty-seven publishers like what happened to Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Suess). He had to keep faith after a publisher responded, “This is too different from other juveniles on the market to warrant its selling.” You would develop empathy and understanding of the publishing business and learn when to ignore feedback like writer F. Scott Fitzgerald did when told, “You’d have a decent book if you’d get rid of that Gatsby Character.”
Thomas Edison’s had 3,000 unsuccessful experiments before inventing the incandescent light bulb. Sir James Dyson first 5,126 attempts were unsuccessful before inventing a vacuum cleaner with winds speed over 400 mph. This is part of the enablement process that family, friends, colleagues and investors may use less flattering prose to describe at the time of the struggles. I can’t imagine what was said after 2,000 unsuccessful tries when success was still just a distant possibility.
Edison and Dyson combined their ideas (1%) with enablement (99%). We will never know how many great ideas were stopped before enablement by internal logic or the risk of an unknown outcome like author Ray Bradbury describes:
“If we listened to our intellect
We’d never have a love affair,
We’d never have a friendship,
We’d never go into business,
Because we’re cynical.
Well, that’s just nonsense.
You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time
And build your wings on the way down.”
You may be willing to lose eight elections if you knew it would help you win the presidential election like Abraham Lincoln. The persistence of successful people to overcome failures (see video) and their enablement competencies (see story) is more important than their dream or idea.
If your desired outcome was assured, who wouldn’t spend 10,000 hours practicing like Bill Gates did with programming, the Beatles did with performances, Mozart did with composing and Wayne Gretzky did with hockey? Malcolm Gladwell argues in his book Outliers that it was the 10,000 hours and timing more than the ideas (1%) that led to the success of Gates, the Beattles, Mozart, and Gretzky.
Are you ready to engage in the 99%? Or will you rest on your great idea like 99.8% of the ideas collecting dust in the U.S. Patent Office? With only 3,000 commercially viable products from the 1.5 million patents, an idea (1%) is only as good as the enablement (99%). So please do not run to the patent office with a DVR idea that records complete shows, I need it built for the new football and basketball seasons beginning soon.
You want to find out how high you can soar? The remaining 99% (enablement) may offer the lift to heights that can only now be imagined.