You have a brilliant idea. Your boss will love it and you can already see your career growing on the back of it. Or maybe it’s an inspired concept for a new start-up. It’s the one that will launch your entrepreneurial dream.
This is love at first sight. You speak about it in those terms. It’s an expression of you; an extension of yourself. This perfect mate will help you manifest your real desires by creating something special.
That’s the first stage of love from any perspective, whether it’s a person or an idea. Evolutionary psychology says this is a crucial first step in aligning two people in a relationship – the matching of two humans, who together will propagate the species by creating a sustainable family.
In business, that’s you and your idea.
Much of this first stage is chemically induced. Adrenalin and dopamine fuel the excitement but eventually, like all drugs, they wear off. What happens next? Either people move on to the next “new idea” – or “new girl” or “new boy” – or, they take the original idea to the next stage.
This is the hard part. When the rapture is no longer driving the energy you need focus and commitment to build out the idea.
The love analogy still applies. The lover – you – have brought yourself and your vision together with the loved – the business idea. There is a creative tension here. Once you start to build it, the idea will have a life of its own with its own needs. They won’t always be aligned with yours.
I regularly work with entrepreneurs who have created something brilliant but are frustrated by the challenge of managing it.
How can you take it to the next level?
Three things help any relationship work through stage two.
- Realism: look to the positives of what you have created. Let go of unrealistic expectations and build on the strengths. Focus on the things you can control. Pre-occupation with shortcomings will hold you back.
- Authenticity: figure out your role. Where can you really contribute? It is most likely doing the things you imagined doing when you were first attracted to the idea. Don’t lose sight of your original inspiration. That’s a source of energy.
- Collaborate: don’t manage in isolation. Form a think tank; get a mentor; discuss issues collectively with colleagues. It will generate positive energy and stress test ideas. It will also put into practice the notion that “all of us is smarter than one of us”.
There’s also the third stage of love. That’s when the relationship between you and your idea has found a fulfilling modus operandi – one that is robust and sustainable, just like any successful relationship.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Implementation is the hard part of any strategy. It’s the honesty and integrity that you put into stage two that lays down the platform on which the final stage rests. If your idea has legs, forget about stage three. Give stage two your best shot.