inner world,  leadership,  self-awareness

God grant me the serenity to accept the ideas I cannot execute

Recently I led a seminar with my colleague Doug at InterVarsity‘s national staff conference. When we were debriefing how it went he told me frankly “your creativity stresses me out.” This is something coming from one of the most creative people in our movement who has literally helped create a program called “start something new.” Then my friend Adam posted this blog that I totally stole the title, idea and the picture from. I left such a long comment on his post I thought, “what the heck, I should just post this on my own blog!”

This is an area of growth for me. I have so many ideas that I can barely sit still at times. I think it stresses a lot of people out. As Adam wrote in his original post:

“For idea people, this is a core competency to learn–which ideas to execute (i.e. kill) and which ideas to execute (i.e start, perform, do). And my boss has helped me see that a key area for growth for me is making this call. It’s really hard, as my “idea engine” is always revving.” Yep. Can totally relate.

 My brilliant husband asked me recently- “why don’t you just do the things you’re about instead of all the other things you’re thinking about?” Simple question. Brilliant question.
 So I thought of a few questions to help my idea propellor to slow down a little bit. And to dial back the amount of things I share with others because I really am driving them crazy.


1. Does this idea fit with the current mission God has given me? Does it distract from the main purpose which he’s called me to? (this requires having some sense of what those things are).

2. Do I have the time to put energy into actually making this idea happen? I recently wanted to rearrange my whole living room but axed the idea because we were having company for the weekend.  I realized they would probably enjoy a clean kitchen and clean dishes to eat from more than a rearranged living room.

3. Do I have the money to make this happen? My ideas always begin BIG BIG BIG. And I have to scale them back reminding myself- take small steps. I recently pitched an idea to my friend Jessica about starting a direct sales jewelry business that benefits single moms in Kenya. Though I was picturing a chain of stores and thousands of Kenyan moms being employed and able to make a living wage for their families I needed to pick one place to start.  I am pursuing this by having my sister-in-law bring some of the beads back from Kenya and having one in-home party to see how it goes. Small investment, small steps, still pursuing it but on a much reasonable scale than opening a store and needing to invest thousands of dollars.
 Thankfully my friend Jessica who I pitched this idea to loves me, laughs and rolls her eyes every time I share another crazy idea- thanks Jess 🙂

4. What is this going to cost my family if I pursue this idea? I’d love to do a triathlon some day. Is this the right time to do that with a first grader, a preschooler, a husband in a rigorous cohort for work, a book I’m supposed to be writing and living in freezing cold Cleveland? Right now is not the right time. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be the right time in the future.

5. How can I internally process all my ideas before sharing them with others so I don’t stress them out?  I realized that writing my ideas down is helpful so I can get them out but then only pitch a couple to people that are appropriately sized to what we are working on.
 Thankfully, Doug was gracious and helped me to come up with this idea. Thanks Doug!

6. Recognize there are very few people who know me well enough to let me talk and spew all the ideas and it won’t stress them out. My husband is one of them. My mentor York is another. They have both known me long enough to realize that probably only 2% of what I come up with will only happen. And then that 2% will likely look entirely different than it’s original iteration.

How do you decide what ideas to pursue? Do you have more trouble coming up with ideas or containing them?



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