Do the Scary Part

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Bob Sutton is a professor at the Stanford Engineering School and a well-known author who has written on the topics of management and leadership.  I took a class taught by Bob over the last few months.  He made the point that there are two significant pieces to innovation; creativity and implementation.  As it turns out, there is rarely a lack of good ideas (the creative part).  What sets successful innovations apart is the fact that someone went through the scary process of bringing them to the world and implementing them.

That process starts with an idea about something… something, as Seth Godin would say, “that might not work”.  I think we are all filled with these ideas.  They are born out of something deep within us.  They are in our daydreams.  We fantasize about them constantly.  However, this world has so conditioned us to produce the “right answer” that the idea of trying something that might not work is out of the question.  We are terrified of what might happen.  The risk just feels too great.  So we spend our lives providing “right answers” in the context of some system (church, school, corporate, government, etc.).  Meanwhile we are haunted by what we were created to offer.

There is no easy way out.  There is no middle ground.  You either bury what you’ve been given, or you start trying things that might not work.