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Work Life Lead: A Little Idea Exercise


To those of us who make our living with ideas, we are grateful for the kind comments and reactions from people who appreciate our writing and presentations.

The problem that accompanies our influence is the impression that all that matters is an insightful, inspiring idea. In fact, what I’ve observed is that our success has bred a class of idea junkies who move from one inspiring idea to the next, without any long term, sustainable effect.

One of the tendencies that I see in even writing a weekly column is coming up with another inspiring idea with which to wow readers.  This does you a disservice as it assumes that the measure of “our” effectiveness – yours and mine together – is not the impact of an idea in action, but rather the cleverness of it.

I say “our effectiveness” because we are partners in determining with an idea has value. If it does, it is because it brings about a change with makes a difference that matters.

What does it mean for an idea to make a difference that matters?

It means that an idea creates change. Your attitude might change, or even your behavior. Your perspective and sense of purpose may change. If any of this takes place, it will ultimately result in actions that make a difference that matters.

Let’s try a little experiment. Take an idea that you’ve recently found to be inspiring. It doesn’t matter who the source is. It is the idea that matters, not its source. If you hear me correctly, a good idea has value in itself, not because it comes from this or that influential idea presenter.

Now do the following.

1.  Write the idea down at the top of a page.

2.  Restate the idea in your own words.

3. Identify one action to take to apply this idea in either your life or work context.

4. Define the difference that you see resulting from acting upon this idea.

The purpose of this little exercise is to explore why a particular idea has an appeal and any application.  Many ideas sound profound, but have little application. If you focus on ideas that make a difference, you’ll find your life and work making a difference that matters.

All of us who seek to influence people by our ideas would be well served by an audience that takes our ideas seriously to the point of testing them. Become our partners in identifying ideas that truly matter.  Most of us welcome your interaction and insights. You just never know, you may become the next great influential idea person whom we are now following. How sweet would that be?

About the author

Dr. Ed Brenegar I'm a leadership speaker, writer and consultant who is a mentor and catalyst for change. I assist leaders and their teams in the transitions required to succeed in today's complex organizational environment. I live in Western North Carolina. I'm involved the Boy Scouts, a charitable leadership training group called Lessons In Leadership, an ordained Presbyterian Church USA minister, and am the host of the Say Thanks Every Day social network.

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Posted in General Leadership, Leadership Q + A, Work Life Lead.

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