Ideas Are Worthless

If there’s anything I’ve learned in my employement in the last few years, it’s that ideas are worthless.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s important to have ideas, and having new and creative ideas is the first step to success. But it’s not the only step.

Your ideas are worthless if you don’t act on them.

I’ve done it lots in my career, where I’ve thought of something and shared it with people and everyone agreed it was a great idea and the next big step for the project / team / company I’m with. And then I never do anything about it, and eventually someone else implements it. And then I get all bitter about it.

But really, it’s my fault. There’s a large gap between the people who come up with great ideas, and the people who implement great ideas. It really doesn’t matter where the original idea came from. It takes a very small amount of effort to think of new things. What takes the effort is making it happen.

I’m sure you’ve all thought the same thing when a new website / app / social service is released – “I totally thought of this 2 years ago!” But it doesn’t matter. With the number of people in your profession and/or geographical area with access to the same data and having the same problems as you, odds are even if you think of something new there’s at least 5 to 500 other people who have had the same idea. Who gets to claim credit for the idea? The person who implements it.

On top of that, it’s not the first person who implements it. It’s the first person who implements it well. Facebook wasn’t the first social network by any stretch. It was the first good social network. Angry Birds wasn’t the first slingshot-based physics game. It was the first good one.

If you have an app idea, and you see there’s 10 apps out there that solve your problem already, don’t get discouraged. Download them. Use them. Take notes. And decide if you can make something better.

Ideas are worthless. Go implement something.