There are more good ideas in this world than you will ever come around to do anything with. It’s a valuable thing to learn to distinguish whether an idea is good or not. However we often get stuck in that
judgment. The most important thing is not the single idea. It’s in what mode you are in:
- Zooming in
- Making stuff happen
They have completely different demands on how you should process ideas to reach your goal.
If you find yourself reading, listening and debating ideas all day and night long chances are you are in sponge mode. It’s often exciting to be in sponge mode and it’s more useful here if you ask yourself ‘in what situation could this kind of knowledge be useful?’ than ‘is this idea true or not?’. There are 6 billion people on this planet. Chances are that even the shittiest ideas apply to some of them. So unless you are writing an academic paper or are working in some exact science like engineering bridges there is no need to criticize ideas just yet (or you might miss out).
What are the signs that the sponge-mode has come to an end? You feel overwhelmed, don’t want to read and discuss ideas any more.
You notice that your interests have narrowed down. It’s mostly one or two topics. Now is the time to ask yourself ‘which of all these concepts and ideas are valuable to me?’. That doesn’t mean the other ideas are bad or incorrect. It just means they don’t apply to you (yet). This is more of filtering and organising stage. Lots of that might not even happen consciously.
The zooming-in stage has come to an end when you can’t sleep because you need to create something: produce that video, set up the website or whatever else you want to accomplish.
Making Stuff Happen
If you want to make something happen, you have to stop trying to think about whether something is a good idea in general. It’s a bit like food: you don’t have to argue with yourself whether you like spaghetti or not. The only thing you need to know about spaghetti is whether you want to eat it now or in the next couple of days or not.If the idea is not useful now file it away and focus on whatever you need right now to solve each step.
I completely made these modes up. Maybe they exist, maybe more stages should be added. That’s not important. What is important is that depending on which stage or mode you are in, what goals you have, you have to treat ideas differently. Mindlessly criticizing any idea will make you a good critic but not necessarily anything else.