Is this you: Too many ideas?

Too many ideasMost of my creativity work is involved with helping people and businesses come up with more and better ideas for their work, their lives, their businesses, to help them innovate, develop new products or new ways of working.

But sometimes I hear this: “but I don’t have a problem coming up with ideas. My problem is I just have too many and don’t don’t which to implement.”

Is this you?

From time to time, it’s certainly me. I have two finished feature film scripts, ideas for three other films, ideas for four novels, twenty finished short stories, hundreds of songs that need recording, dozens of recorded songs that need uploading to iTunes, three business ideas for Dragon’s Den, three big marketing ideas for my own business, three non-fiction books three-quarters finished, ideas for three more non-fiction books, ideas for three public events and three ideas for some big corporations that could innovate their businesses.

That’s quite plainly too much to work on today. Too much to work on this week. I couldn’t get all that lot done in a month and the fact that some of those ideas have been hanging around for ten years tells me a decade isn’t even going to crack it.

It’s obvious that I have too many ideas to do before 2022. If I could work on them all full time, maybe I’d break the back of the to-do list by Christmas 2014, or perhaps not.

Because let’s face it, developing and working on speculative ideas can never really be our full-time role. Most of the time we have to get the donkey work done, the bread and butter, sort out family life, keep the wolf from the door, pay the bills, work for the Man, please the boss, firefight, ambulance chase, deal with people, manage stuff and generally ‘get on’. Only a lucky few have the luxury to sit back and pick and choose from their creative list or religiously work through every single idea one by one without distraction.

So is it simply a question of time management, of project management and the old chestnut, goal setting?


Those are topics well described (by me in the past and loads of others). Here’s a summary: Prioritise your projects, break ‘em down into bite sized chunks and do a little bit of work on them each day. That’s goal setting. Not much more to be said really.

But does that solve the problem?

No really, no.

Because goal setting, time and project management only work when you know what you’re supposed to be doing. The reason people don’t achieve their dreams (or even get the most humble of tasks done like reading the papers or having a break) is not through lack of time management or not having goal setting techniques.

Could it be because all of those wonderful ideas we have, we know, deep down that they’re not really that great after-all, or would require far too much time and effort to transform into a good idea worth making sacrifices for?

To put it simply, we’re right back at the start, if we admit it. We actually have lots and lots of pretty average ideas and a few very poor ones. The reason we don’t know which to choose is because none of them excites us, ignites our passions or gives that shudder of a thrill as if buried treasure has been found.

The fact of asking the question, ‘which idea should I pursue’ gives us a clue that perhaps we need to be more creative still; take the present batch of ideas as practice for coming up with something worth pursuing. If you were asking ‘which girl or boy should I marry?’ and had to weigh up the pros and cons of a group of men of women, it probably means that you haven’t found the right person just yet. It’s the same with ‘the big idea’.

Why should there be a ‘big idea’ you may ask? Because we know perfectly well that we can’t do everything. We know perfectly well that we haven’t got the time. We know perfectly well that multitasking produces multiple average results.

We know from everyone who has ever been successful that they concentrated on one thing at a time, to get it right, to power it, to complete it.

So the next time you hear someone saying ‘I’ve got so many ideas, I don’t know which to focus on’ tell them they’re just not being creative enough. And that includes me if you catch me at it too.

Ayd works with people and businesses to explore and unlock their creative ideas in ways they may never have thought possible, to inspire innovation.

Book Ayd to speak about the Power of ‘What If?’ and Inspiration for Innovation at your conference, or in your business. A great way to open your event or as an after lunch energiser.

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5 comments on “Is this you: Too many ideas?

  1. I totally agree, and it took a while for me to realise this. Coming up with ideas is only one step of one type of creative process. ideas are not creations. It’s not creativity until it’s created something. You have to change gear to move from ideas to production, and it’s exhausting revving away in first gear and not getting anywhere. Thanks for this Ayd.


  2. Thanks for the share Ayd! I feel a good vibe from this story! @EricMurphy what you had to say about… “It’s not creativity until it’s created something.” was refreshing, you made my evening,


  3. Sometimes really original ideas don’t have the feasibility to come true yet because they don’t have the support structure, (the social support structure in this case.) It would be as if you’ve just invented the I-phone without any of the apps, or the store to buy the apps. Until you’ve got the practical means to offer the experience as a whole package, people won’t understand it’s benefits.
    I have a great idea; it came to me twenty years ago. I’ve never known what to do with it so it hasn’t yet happened. It is an idea that requires other people’s support and interest, but I’m not sure how to “pitch it” to these other people. People don’t understand it’s potential or why they should bother to learn to use it unless I’m there to show it off personally. Because of this, the form it supposed to take hasn’t become apparent or obvious to me yet. Of course, for it to take off it would need to be more obvious so someone could play with it “out of the box.”
    If you’re curious, it’s an idea about loosely outlining improvisational performances so participants with all levels of experience and commitment can play together.


  4. How High Can We Go?

    Scene 1 – The studio of Leonardo da Vinci, Milan, Italy, in the year 1506

    LEONARDO: Gian Giacomo! Salai ! Are you there, Little Devil?

    [Enter Gian Giacomo]

    GIACOMO: Yes, Master Leonardo. I am always here.

    LEONARDO: Always? Not three weeks ago yesterday, Little Devil – when you made off yet again with my money to buy your 19th pair of fancy shoes! Ha!

    GIACOMO: How did you know about the shoes? I told only our friend Lisa, wife of Francesco del Giocondo!

    LEONARDO: She finished the sittings for her portrait earlier this week. I knew she had a secret – and I painted it. When it dawned upon her that I had read it on her face, she told me everything. Ha!

    GIACOMO: I can keep nothing from you, Master. I am undone.

    LEONARDO: You are forgiven, again, Salai. You have always kept my wits sharp. But La Signora Lisa did not want to bring home her portrait. Therefore, I shall bequeath the painting to you. She does not want to be reminded of her duplicity – and you, Little Devil, deserve very much to be reminded of it. Ha!

    GIACOMO: Thank you, Master. Whatever I do, I cannot lose your kindness.

    LEONARDO: Well, now, il Salaino, have you brought in my Notebooks as I requested earlier?

    GIACOMO: I went to do so at once, Master. The steps for your library shelves had been removed. I searched and found them in the kitchen. Then I was asked by the cook to supply her with vegetables from the market but when I arrived I found that I had forgotten my purse. On the way back for it, I thought I would collect your new tunic from Gino the tailor, for which you have paid already. He was not expecting me. He has more work to do on it and he asked me to return tomorrow. Franco spotted me hurrying along and stopped to ask if I had learned the lines he gave me yesterday. Although I have not learned them yet, he said he would give me a part in his next production if I learned some good sword play. He sent me to the house of a skilled swordsman so that I could arrange to have lessons. But he was not at home. So you see, I have been as busy as ever.

    LEONARDO: Ah, yes, Salai, as busy as ever. Ha!

    GIACOMO: I will bring the Notebooks at once – or shall I go for the vegetables?

    LEONARDO: I am going to the library. I will use them there. Just remember:

    The maiden shall not shame her mother
    Who gazes fair upon a worthy soul,
    And conscience shall not stir her brother –
    For deepest love is a binding goal.

    GIACOMO: What are you saying, Master?

    LEONARDO: Your lines, Little Devil. Ha!

    [Gian Giacomo and Leonardo exit together]

    Scene 2 – One hour later, in the library of Leonardo Da Vinci

    LEONARDO {to himself}: Ah, my Little Devil. He is stubborn and greedy, a thief and a liar – but he has taught me so much in the past 16 years since he was apprenticed to me at 10 years old; so much, about ideas and about time itself. We can appear to do many things at once but each idea must wait its turn. It has its own time. With good judgment and good fortune, good ideas will keep. Now, I need to review sketches in my Notebook. 1483 . . . {turns pages} 1485. . . Ah, here it is: “If a man is provided with a length of gummed linen cloth with a length of 12 yards on each side and 12 yards high, he can jump from any great height whatsoever without injury.” This sketch needs a model, not simply a drawing.


    Then, we could construct a full-size working device. It could be done. Perhaps I could build it and persuade il Salaino to go up. . . No, maybe not him – but I am certain that someone will do it, one day.


    And how high up could we go? That will depend upon several factors: How much determination and courage we have, how much patience we show, how much preparation we do – and, of course, how much knowledge we gain.


    Ah, yes. Time, how precious it is. Ha!

    [Exit Leonardo, carrying his Notebooks]


  5. You are not just born to be a creator. For to be a creator you need to time. If you are create from instinct to create something at any price and to fight with the time it just might to exploded in your face. Sometimes for writing 245 or 300 words i am thinking two days. It is not because i don’t know to write but to find the proofs to every paragraph. Sometimes it is better to take the time instead to waste it for mistakes. I am sure you take your time for good reasons and you can wait and take the time to give an good ideas! Haste is the work of the devil!


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