Ideas Are Like Diamonds — Even the Best Need Some Work to Shine

by | Dec 6, 2011 | Consulting

A great idea can change a company, an industry, and even history.  Ideas are some of the most precious things that we have.  Every great invention, product, service, movement, and even nation started as one.  Great ideas are the hallmark of great leaders.  Yet so many great ideas are overlooked.  One major reason that an idea doesn’t become reality is that it never gets polished.

Diamonds in the Rough
An idea needs to be refined, tempered, and packaged to look as good as it is.  Take diamonds for example, you wouldn’t hesitate to kick a small black rock out of your way, it just doesn’t look like much.  But what if that rock is cleaned, trimmed, and has every angle strategically crafted to sparkle?

Have you ever had what seemed to you like the most innovative and powerful idea?  You were completely convinced that your idea could turn the tide, only to have it effortlessly shot down at the next staff meeting.  You find yourself asking was it a bad idea?  What is a good idea? Why didn’t they like it? Did they even understand it?

More often than we like to admit, even our best ideas need some work.  Rarely is a flawless diamond that is perfectly cut and polished found naturally lying on the ground.  So why would we think that a raw idea would pop out just as perfectly?

Mixing Feelings with Ideas
People naturally don’t like to have their ideas questioned, challenged, or judged.  They often invest part of themselves into an idea and take it personally if it’s met with anything other than approval.  It’s usually just easier on a personal level to decline someone’s new idea that needs some work than to put the intellectual chisel to it.  But if you’re willing to press through the uncomfortable idea refinement process, then you open up some new and exciting possibilities.

Keep in mind, even with a diamond there are parts that need to be cut off.  What you end up with is smaller and looks a lot different than what you started with, but it will shine much brighter.

Pursue the Grindstone
Instead of pushing for your brilliant idea to be universally adopted as is, come to the table looking for feedback on how it can be refined:

  • Ask about changes that can be made to make it usable.  People will be more open to consider your idea if you’re open to hear their thoughts on it.
  • Look for other ideas that sharpen yours.
  • And if you have the humility, look for ways that your idea can spark someone else to come up with a better idea.
  • Don’t be disappointed or surprised when your idea needs work, rather pursue the grindstone.
  • Hunger for the end result, for a great idea that can turn the tide, fix the problem, or be the new thing that is needed.

If you have a bright idea, adding some polish will only make it brighter.

George Konetes