When Ideas Fail

30 Oct

If you hear my idea and don’t believe it, that’s not your fault, it’s mine.  -Seth Godin

Part of leadership is presenting a vision, something that your followers can get behind.  Bad leaders think they have bad followers when their idea flops.

It’s a possibility.  There is definitely such a thing as a bad follower.

But why point the finger at someone else before you examine yourself?  (I know, it’s human nature to blame it elsewhere…)

Failed ideas doesn’t necessarily make you a bad leader. That’s not the way it works. Every President, no matter whether you think they were a good or a bad leader, has had failed ideas. But if you consistently show up with ideas that others don’t support, you need to check yourself.

Is the idea sound? Is the idea practical and useful and possible?
If so, are you communicating it wrongly? Are you presenting it incorrectly? Are you failing to paint a picture that encompasses the vision – where the idea gets your followers, why the idea will help your followers, when the idea will become mainstream?

I often find myself repackaging my ideas.  The idea may not change from person to person: why you should learn to ride a bike (to two 5-year-olds) and how you should train to run a 5K (to a few friends) but every person has different abilities, different desires, different agendas.  The idea may not change but your delivery of it may need to.

It takes guts to point the finger at yourself but not indulge in excuses, pity or guilt.  Point the finger, sound out the idea, repackage as necessary, try again.  The important part is to keep trying.  We’ve seen Steve Jobs’ ideas fail, and we saw them succeed.  That part of his story isn’t unique.

When ideas fail, it doesn’t make you a failure.  Unless you never try again.

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