Knowing Which Ideas To Keep Or Abandon

The only way to see if your ideas work is to test your ideas and see them fail.

I am on holiday in Orange, New South Wales, Australia and I was transfixed by the crow outside my hotel balcony.

It was looking for twigs to build its nest.  And what I found really interesting was that it didn’t just pick up any twigs. Not even those that were already on the ground.

It had a “better” idea.

Instead of choosing the twigs on the ground, it started breaking off creeper branches on the wall by biting on it. And then letting the broken creeper branches drop to the ground.

And then, what it began doing next was fascinating.

It flew down to where the branches dropped and started testing them one by one for strength.  How?

By breaking them!

If she can break them, she didn’t want them.  Turned out, none of the creeper branches survived the test. Its great idea had failed spectacularly! It soon got disinterested and flew off.

I thought that was the last I would see of her.  Well, I was wrong.

A few minutes later, it flew back!  Now, it had gotten interested in the twigs that were originally on the ground.

She had discovered a “new” idea.

These twigs on the ground have become especially interesting to her.  And to my surprise, she went on and started performing the same strength test on these new twigs.  And this time round, the twigs passed the test.

Finally! She had found what she needed.  She picked up all the tested twigs in its beak.  A bunch of them actually.  And flew off.

All this happened in under 5 minutes. Unexpectedly, I have learnt a life lesson.

Ideas not tested out will remain forever as ideas.

Think about this.  How often have we had all those ideas only to see someone else tried them out and made them worked.  As a result, our ideas never see daylight, and we never got credit for them.  “But, but, I thought of them first!”, you told yourself.   However, it really didn’t matter. What mattered is who tested out those ideas first.

The only way you know if your ideas are good or bad is by testing them out.  Only then can you know which ones to keep, which to abandon. And which ones worked.

Just like the crow did.

Be Yourself; Everyone else is taken.  Be you.  Our talents, strengths, lives are all one of a kind.

I once heard a talk by Brene Brown who shared that people are happiest when they are being themselves.

This is a Shareable Quote.  Please feel free to share or download the quote for your own use.  You can use the social icons below.

(Image Credit Brooke Lark)

Also, check out my latest post, The Courage To Try.


5 Things You Can Do To Get Started

I am terrified to get started on some things because I fear rejection.  To be rejected is my number one fear.  I did not have the courage to try.

Because of it, I often struggle in getting started on things that I have always wanted to do and things I should be doing.

What are you terrified of starting yourself?

As recently as last week, I have been struggling with getting started on this blog for the last 3 years.  It would have greatly helped advance the cause of my passion and benefitted the thousands of people that I have served.

But courage was missing. Fear loomed.

Rejection for me could be about a look of disdain, the pain of critique, the sound of dead silence, the litany of outright NOs, the forever blame game or the shame of failure.

Many of us get stuck at the MYTH of fear:

I need to first overcome my fear so that I can get started.

It is saying, let me deal with rejection first, then I can get to the things I wanted to do.  So we read books, attend courses, search the internet, go on to youtube, or follow the gurus for all kinds for self-motivation, inspiration, improvement, and training.    And the result is always the same.

Yes I can!  Yes I can!  No I didn’t.

You cannot overcome fear first and then get started.  The truth is

You need to get started first so that you can overcome fear.

I cannot overcome my fear of rejection if I haven’t seen what it is like.  Mostly, I imagined them.  And quite often, they don’t materialize.  And from previous other experiences, I am always glad I got started.

Babies are born every day. And they don’t walk. They learn to walk. First by getting started. Then by falling. And falling again. And finally, they walk.

We were babies once. Let’s get started again.

So here are 5 things that can help you GET STARTED on things that you have always wanted to do: –

  1. Get Strong. Not Wrong: Knowing WHY we do things is a powerful motivator. WHAT stops us is a powerful de-motivator.  And we all love to focus on what demotivates.  In my case, it is rejection, real or imagined.  And it delayed this blogging project for 3 years.  Getting clearer on my WHY changed all that.
  2. Think Big. Start Small: The end goal can be daunting and may stop many of us.  So, think big, but start small.  Start with what you have and not what you do not have.  For me, I got started on “blogging” on Linkedin with a quote.  Nobody clicked “Like”.  But nobody commented, “You suck!”.  OK!  Great start!
  3. Plan A Little. Do A Little: We are great planners and lousy doers.  Don’t just plan, plan, plan and do. Often, we never start.  If we did and fail, it can be terribly discouraging.  So, plan a little, do a little.  Learn and adjust.  That way, you are moving forward, and if you make mistakes, they are not going to be big problems.
  4. Go Deep. Go Long: This is a long game.  As you plan and do, find out what makes you tick and click.  Go deeper.  Do more.  I fell in love with coaching in 2010.  Since then, I became a Strengthsfinder and Halftime Master Coach and started StrengthsAsia. I am still at it. And whatever I do today, I am simply sowing in my orchard.
  5. Get Started!: STOP WAITING!  Do something!  Make something happen no matter how small it is!  It is not one day I will but DAY ONE I did!  For me, I finally did it! Started my blog. Launched it last week. So far, it has received more than 200 views and climbing. For a novice like me, not bad really.  And I thought nobody would read!

So don’t let fear stop you from getting started on the things you have always wanted to do.

Be courageous.  Try.

Or as we say it here in Singapore, “Die Die Must Try!”


Expression Of Ideas Is Your Strength

My wife told me she does not have the strength of ideation.  That she is not an ideas person.  “No ideation.  No strength in ideas”, she said. That made me raise my eyebrows.

I asked her, “Why not?”  And she told me 3 reasons: –

Different Strengths. Different Ideas.

  1. She doesn’t feel her ideas were original.
  2. What she knows, are stuff that others already have thought about.
  3. She thinks her only strength here is that she is good at learning and putting all these different ideas together.

Her 3rd point had me really puzzled.  So I asked her again, “And that doesn’t make you an ideas person?!”

Often, we all sell ourselves short.

It was Pablo Picasso who said


Good artists copy. Great artists steal.


And it was Steve Jobs who made that line famous.

It meant all good artists have ideas but only the great ones that put the ideas together made it their own.  We all can hold a paint brush.  And only those who paint on a white canvas are noticed.

Our ideas may not be the most original.  And yet, no one really has a monopoly over original ideas.  How often have you been told or you told others that your idea or theirs was nothing new?

Listen to this.

While our ideas may be similar to other people, our expressions of those ideas are our own. When we express these ideas in our own ways, we power these ideas in a new direction or with a fresh perspective.   When we put different ideas together, we create something new and make it our own.

Ideas find its strength and shape through our expressions.  It is our individual expressions of those ideas that showed how we think, feel and behave that is truly an original.

Unfortunately, many get stopped at “it is nothing new”.  We drew away, shut up, and too easily brand ourselves tragically as the person that is a “not”.  Not original.  Not creative.  Not an “ideas person”.


Ideas, originality, and creativity do not belong just to the fancy pants. They belong to everyone.  They belong to you!

I have been married for 27 years. And the one thing I know about my wife is that she is a fabulously “ideas person”.  Every day, she brims with endless creativity in bringing change, hope, joy, strength, and purpose to the family, to her work, and to her friends.

So, let’s stop telling ourselves we have little strength or ability in creating ideas.   Worse still, that we have no ideas.

How you express these supposedly “unoriginal” ideas through your own way is your unique strength.  The fact that you are taking all sorts of existing ideas, mixing them up and creating new insight is precisely what ideation is.  So don’t sell yourself short.

The lack of original ideas may stop you. But it is your expression of those ideas that must move you.