You’ve come to an obstacle in a project you’re working on, and your coworkers turn to you for your take. “I don’t have any good ideas,” you offer weakly.
It’s a response that makes you look like you either don’t care or are simply incompetent.
In a recent blog post, popular author and entrepreneur Seth Godin says that you can overcome this trap by looking at what you’re really saying when you say you’ve got nothing relevant to offer. And that is: “I don’t have any ideas that are guaranteed to work, and not only that, are guaranteed to cause no criticism or moments when I’m sure the whole thing is going to fall apart.”
Basically, you are always capable of coming up with an idea that can benefit both you and your team, but you need to get over a fear of criticism.
There are times, of course, when it seems impossible to come up with something, even if you’re exceptionally confident. That’s when you should set aside time for yourself where you can slow down the chaos inside your mind and focus on brainstorming.
LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner accomplishes this by scheduling “buffers” into his calendar, time periods where he is left alone to think about the direction of the company. He writes in a LinkedIn blog post:
[T]hinking, if done properly, requires uninterrupted focus; thoroughly developing and questioning assumptions; synthesizing all of the data, information and knowledge that’s incessantly coming your way; connecting dots, bouncing ideas off of trusted colleagues; and iterating through multiple scenarios. In other words, it takes time.
The next time you’re at an impasse, Godin suggests you let go of your fear of being judged and let your ideas flow.
“Pretty good ideas are easy,” he writes. “The guts and persistence and talent to create, ship, and stick it out are what’s hard.”
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