One of the great things about having a blog is that friends and colleagues often e-mail inspirational videos and articles in hopes I can use them as topics. Recently, Diane Baumann, one of our marketing consultants, came across a video from entrepreneur Derek Sivers.
Derek is the founder of CD Baby, which became the largest independent music seller on the web. A self-described “learning addict,” he says he “makes useful things, and shares what he learns.”
In this video, titled “Obvious to You; Amazing to Others,” Derek talks about something we’ve likely all experienced—being impressed by others’ creative thoughts and ideas, only to think, “I’ll never be that impressive.” Later, he’s surprised to learn that someone, upon reading his “little tales and ordinary thoughts,” e-mailed him to ask how he came up with them—and to tell him they were “genius.” His point: everybody’s ideas seem obvious to them, and since we’re clearly a bad judge of our own thoughts, we should just put them out there and let the world decide.
I think his point is a good one. Too often, we worry that our ideas are too mundane or—even worse—silly. I understand this to an extent—whoever said there was no such thing as a “bad idea” must be an unfaltering optimist—but sometimes even the least impressive ideas inspire others to come up with better ones. A colleague of mine has an agreement with her manager that I think is pretty genius. If she has a thought or idea that she’s hesitant to share, that’s fine. She can keep it to herself. But if she has that thought or idea a second time—if it lingers—then she’s obligated to share it.
Although I don’t do this in a calculated manner, I tend to think carefully about what I say before I say it. But I do try to share my thoughts and opinions even if I think they may be obvious. Because we have a saying at Plante Moran: “Speak Up! If it’s not right, we’ll change it.” And although the second part of that statement may not always apply, the first part has become part of my cultural DNA.
So what about you? Are you holding back an idea that seems too obvious, too ordinary, to share? I’d love to hear it!