Thursday, April 7, 2011

Growing Ideas

"By believing passionately in something that still does not exist we create it.  The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired."  -- Nikos Kazantzakis --

No matter what our big ideas are, we all have them!  We all have dreams, plans, and things we imagine that we'd love to see really happen someday.  Maybe our ideas involve a book we want to write, a lesson to plan, a piece of art we hope to create, a proposal we want to make at work, or perhaps a group we want to organize.  Many of us live with our ideas for years and then eventually let them go or put them on the back shelf while life keeps moving on.  They stay seed ideas forever.  Then there are those people that actually take these seed ideas, nurture them, believe in them and make them grow so they become reality.  Dreams in action!

So, what is it that keeps so many of us from taking our big ideas from seed to plant?  What separates the doers from the "maybe some dayers"? These are questions I've been tossing around in my head for some time now.  As I continue to come up with passionate ideas for books or articles I want to write, organizations I want to create, or possible directions I want to go with my career, I find myself allowing my ideas to be put on the shelf and fizzle out before they even start to grow. I'm ready to tackle the things that get in the way of making my ideas grow and instead do the things that will make my ideas and dreams a reality!  

Things That Get in the Way of Growing Our Ideas

  • Toxic Thinking:  
    • I'm a dime a dozen. This ideas isn't original enough.  Somebody has already had this thought.  
    • Who do I think I am?  I'm a nobody.  I don't have the experience or impressive resume that people are looking for.  I'll never get there.  
    • I don't have any outside connections.
    • I'm not good enough
  • Seeing the whole process at once instead of breaking it up into easier steps. This can be a sure way to get overwhelmed and feel like your idea is too daunting.  
  • Letting naysayers have too much power over us.  There will always be those people out there in our life that will try to bring us down or say something to minimize our ideas or put our fire out.  We don't have control over what these people think and we can't make them believe in us but we do hold the power to not let what they think get us off track.  
  • We lack the resources or connections.  Making an idea work can involve a lot of time, money, and hard work.  It also usually involves getting connected with the right people who can help take your idea one step further.  It is hard to trust that things will come along when the time is right.  
  • Feelings of inadequacy and making ourselves feel silly for dreaming big
Original art by Cher Odum 2007

Ways to Cultivate and Nurture Our Seed Ideas and Make Them Reality
  • LIve with your ideas--spend time with your ideas and try them on for size!  See how they feel and imagine them playing out in different ways.  This is part of the planning process.
  • Write your ideas down!  A great way to keep your ideas all in one place is to keep them in a notebook.  I keep my ideas in my writer's notebook, a place I write lists, book ideas, things I notice in my daily life that could be used as an idea, etc.  I've always used a regular old composition notebook.  As a teacher of writing, I've had my students keep writer's notebooks too.  These notebooks become treasures to all of us.  
  • Free write--Write freely about your ideas in stream of consciousness style.  Let your ideas flow!  You can always go back over these notes later but sometimes if we don't write them down, we lose them in all the other clutter taking up our daily thinking.  
  • Share your ideas--share your ideas with others and try not to let your vulnerable side keep you from taking your ideas seriously enough to talk about them with confidence.
  • Have a sharing partner--have a friend that knows your ideas and that will be there to bounce more ideas off of.  Talk abut your idea often. When in the classroom, I strongly believe in allowing my students to have writing partners to share their ideas with.  This is one of the most powerful forms of rehearsal and prewriting strategies for getting ideas to flow and sparking creative thinking.  
  • Believe and Achieve--Believe that your idea is important and unique enough.
Original art by Cher Odum 2007
  • Get rid of fear--it only holds you back and clouds your thinking.  Fear changes your energy and instead of opening doors, you are closing them.
  • Have confidence--Nobody is going to believe in a product or piece of work that the creator isn't truly confident in.  Put power and confident energy into your work and every day living! Others are attracted to confidence, not to be confused with arrogance.  
  • Take yourself seriously--people will take you only as seriously as you take yourself.
  • Set lofty goals--No dream is too big.  Stop seeing things as "too big for me" or "that can't work out for someone like me".  Instead, see yourself as capable and strong enough to make things happen!
  • Don't be afraid to change direction--ideas don't always stay the same throughout the entire process.  They can change, lead to other things, or take longer to grow than we might expect.  
  • Be patient!  Growing ideas takes time.  
Original art by Cher Odum 2007

What ideas are you sitting on?  Go make them happen!


  1. Very inspiring!
    I love your mom's illustrations- so colorful.

  2. I love this. It is so important to 'live your dreams out loud'.... and tell the world your plans!

    You are an amazing woman! So inspiring. Thanks for that today. :-)

  3. Thank you for this post, I read it while eating breakfast this morning and then starred it in my reader to go back and revisit. (your blog has a growing collection in there)

    I appreciate the thought you put into your posts. I absolutely love your collages. I want to start some of my own because while blogs are great for inspiration it is fantastic to have something to look at everyday so you can revisit your thoughts.

  4. I am printing this post off! It is funny how we (I) have dreams that I feel very passionate about that I let fizzle out. I totally feel reinspired now! Thank you!!!

  5. What great tips for making our dreams come true. Fear really can set in and make us doubt ourselves before we even try. Great ideas!

  6. Good one! I'm busy putting some dreams/plans into action and I've also started sharing some of my plans and dreams more freely. All to get things done and not keep it at plan/dream. This was a great post to read.

  7. Very inspiring, as always! I think it's so true. There are so many things that I still want to do in my life. I have a list of things I want to do before I die. There are two that stick out in my head. One is writing a professional article that gets published and the other is to start my own agency. Currently the thing stopping me is that I don't feel I have enough experience to have anything worthwhile to say. I've only been in the field for five years and my current focus is not where I want to stay. The agency I want to start is very much just ideas right now but it surrounds poverty, food and basic necessities. In college the volunteer work I did was for the oppressed and vulnerable and it stills hold such a place in my heart.

  8. Sometimes it is money that holds me back! Right now I am DOING IT! Found a way around the money angle and just worked to make it happen! I can't believe we are doing it.

    But everyone is different. Not all personalities are suited to 'making things happen' and not all are geared toward dreaming. And there is nothing 'wrong' with that either :)

  9. Marjorie, I think we don't have to be "the dreamer" mentality to have ideas and and want to make things happen for us. For some, it might simply mean that they want to organize their bedroom or make a filing system for their bills. These are dreams too. Ha! Or maybe some just have an idea to cook a good dinner that night. Really, it doesn't have to be a big idea...growing ideas is about growing "your" idea.

  10. I've never been much of a big dreamer. I always limit myself by what I see as "realistic"...You challenge me and remind me that I am often actually in control of what is "realistic" in my life. I'm "settling" too much. You inspire me to dream but more importantly to BELIEVE in my dreams.

    Your mom's artwork is just beautiful. What a talent.

    Great post Amanda. Fluid! Wonderful points. So much awesome food for thought! Thankyou:)

  11. Wonderful tips! Thanks for a great post.

  12. I love the way you illustrated your thoughts so well with your mom's art. You guys are MADE to write together!

    This is definitely my year of no excuses. Right now, my "big dream" is that adventure race in September with my brother. I've been taking small steps to get myself prepared to kick butt then.

  13. Sharing ideas can be so hard. It's like laying a very exposed and vulnerable part of the real you out for everyone to see. But if you have a trusted friend to share with it makes it so much easier.

  14. Wow, your mom is awesome!

  15. What a terrific postm Amanda. Seriously, I needed that, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. I think another thing to add to your list of roadblocks is comfort. It can be so easy to be too comfortable with your career/relationship/life the way it is, even if it isn't great, because you are used to it and change is scary. Comfort is the antithesis to making big dreams happen.
    I dream of doing a race on every continent and freelancing my way through life. And I know that I can only do that if I stop getting in my own way.
    I'm sending you all the best of luck on your own big dreams :)

  16. So inspiring! What magazines do you find that have all these great words/quotes?

  17. Harmony, those are my mom's collages and she uses all kinds of magazines, zen stuff...not sure...I'll ask her. ;)

  18. Ryan and I started our inspiration boards today. I needed this. LOVE the drawings. Are they your moms?

  19. amanda, this is SO wonderful! you truly have a gift and i thank you for sharing it here on your blog. and your mom's art - i love it!!