Time for Books | How Remarkable Women Lead
Time for Books | How Remarkable Women Lead 2

I Had a Big Idea

I had a big idea

I had a big idea.

I knew a great solution.

I found a better way, one day.

My problem was, I didn't know the question.

Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever known in your gut, deep down in that intuitive place you keep all your secrets, that your way was a better way. Your way was the next big thing. Your way was an idea no one had ever thought of before! 

But, no one would listen.

"I can do it," you said to all those people at your women's networking group. "Just last month I had this big idea..." but they weren't listening. They were busy with their own big ideas. They wanted you to listen to them. They wanted you to wait, to share your big idea later, after they shared their big idea. And, oh, the big ideas were floating around the room like confetti. You could almost touch them - there were bright blue ones, and purple ones, and lipstick red ones, and the multi-colored hues were giving you a headache!

The question isn't, "Do you want me to help you with your big idea?"

The question is, "Today's big idea, and yesterday's big idea, and tomorrow's big idea are all so different, how do you choose which one to pursue?" Or, "How do you know which big idea is the right one - the one people will want?"

How, indeed!

Big ideas are a dime a dozen. Where have you heard that before? Those of us of a certain age, lugging around that baby boomer label (and what does it mean, it's representative of US, of who we are, of our lives and our talents and our...okay, that's a rant, but you understand!), have heard phrases like "a dime a dozen" for our entire lives. 

How about, "If I had a nickel for every lame-brained sales person who tried to sell me a pet rock, I'd be rich!" 

I used pet rock (another icon of days gone by) but you can substitute whatever you like. Read all about pet rocks here - what a story! What an idea! 

Here's the stickler, was the pet rock a big idea? And, if it was, how did the inventor get rick with it?

Doing what you know won't always get you what you want lipsticking big ideas (1)
Big ideas don't support themselves. For every big idea you have, there are probably a dozen more you should push into the trash and leave there. We can't give every big idea its day. I hear women in the baby boomer age group talking up big ideas all the time. They don't always call them 'big ideas', sometimes they refer to the big idea as a thought or a musing or a new product they're going to invent. And then, they go back to what they know because someone once told them to do what you know.

It's like writing - in writing class you're told, "write what you know"...and we do. We craft those short stories about how we fell in love at 12 and cried ourselves to sleep at night because he didn't even know we existed. And, we think we're doing what we should be doing. But, maybe we aren't.

It's good to start with what you know. But, Kathryn Eggins points out that doing what you know isn't always going to get your where you want to go. 

She talks instead about zones of excellence and zones of genius. Sort of like big ideas and bigger ideas. 

How can you tell the difference between your Zone of Excellence and your Zone of Genius?

When you wake up in the morning, what’s the first thing you think of that you would love to be doing all day, every day?

Is it the life you’re currently living every day?

Or is it a dream in your heart?

Would you love to be working with animals or travelling the world?

What’s the passion that tugs at your heart strings?

That’s your Zone of Genius – colourful and bright.

If you’re simply pursuing a career because you’re good at what you do…

That’s your Zone of Excellence – enjoyable but compared to your Zone of Genius, it’s black and white.

I LOVE how she says, "that's your zone of genius - colorful and bright." 

Life should be colorful and bright. Life should be fulfilling worthwhile. Life should be what we want it to be.

If your life isn't, you need to take an assessment of both yourself and your space. 

What does that mean? Your self assessment is when you go away for a weekend, by yourself, on a retreat and tap into your deepest thoughts and desires. You don't just walk the beach or hike the mountains or hang out at the dog park with your dog (oh, did I forget to say you can take your dog? Your dog is perfect because you can talk openly and freely to your dog, and your dog will lick your face; especially if you're eating ice cream). While you're on this retreat, you journal. You share, with yourself (and your dog) your hopes and dreams and worries and fears and if you cry a little, that's okay. I expect you will laugh a little also.

This is time to learn about you and the little girl you once were who said to her fifth grade teacher, "I'm going to be a <whatever>." And, even though her fifth grade teacher smiled and gave her a pat on the head and sent her home for lunch (I always went home for lunch, you too?), as if dismissing foolish little girl dreams, you held onto that dream ... as long as you could. 

It isn't necessary, on your retreat, to finally come to grips with that one day or week or year that you let the dream go because life said, "You have to do this... you have bills to pay... you have a family... life isn't about you..." 

It is necessary to remember the dream and bring it back to life. Because it's still there. I know it is.

As for assessing your space, that means understanding where you are right now. Yes, right now. Where are you living? Not your house or your neighborhood or your city. Your space. The space you breathe. 

Virginia Woolf said, "Women have sat indoors all these millions of years, so that by this time the very walls are permeated by their creative force, which has, indeed, so overcharged the capacity of bricks and mortar that it must needs harness itself to pens and brushes and business and politics."

She writes of women sitting indoors and today we do not do so, but we do sit inside of ourselves. We hunker down and take the creative force that lives within ourselves and we push it down, down, down, away from our reality, away from the light of day. Lest it escape.

It should escape. Into your space. And, within that space, allow it to bring forth lightning and thunder to strike down any and all who would force you to push it back into your heart where you have held it, hidden sometimes even from you, all these years.

Ah, doesn't that feel good? 

I had a big idea. And, I learned along the way, to ask the question my big idea needed me to ask.

Am I worthy of this big idea?

Are you worthy? Do you want to take your big idea to the ultimate completion? Are you ready for the journey? 

Let's talk. Leave a comment. Send an email. Begin to embrace your creative force. 

  Assessing your space


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Yvonne DiVita

Sherry, this was such an amazing comment I almost don't know what else to say!

Oh yes, we baby boomers have much to contribute, and often we don't even know what it is. I see so many wonderfully talented women struggle with this, now that they are in the second act of their lives, it makes me truly sad.

Thank you for the insight shared here. It's spot on! And, I am glad we met via your wonderful book, which I used to launch my video book series, Time for Books. I look forward to talking all about the second act we've both begun - in person - over coffee someday soon!

Sherry Ross

Hi Yvonne,
This is a wonderful essay. I might add that it asks the big question! LOL Where are you right now and is this anything like where you want to be? Every few years we need to make that self-assessment, otherwise we stagnate and often don't even realize it. As you say, something just seems to be missing. You have a wonderful way of getting at a truth, at very serious material, and doing it with a energetic balance of insight and humor.

For us baby boomers, this is a great time to ask this question. We have more experience than we ever had, we can more readily switch priorities to include this self-assessment, and we are hopefully more resilient because of that experience. This can make it less frightening to take a risk. We are who we are, but we can do more and be more. If one plan "fails" (which really just means more experience) we can shake ourselves off and try again with a fresh approach. It might still feel scary, to a lot of us, to aim for a dream at a later time in life. But really, even if it doesn't work out, what have you lost at our age? You are still you, having just tried something new. Isn't that great!

Just doing, trying, reaching for something more, is exciting and adds excitement to your life. Striving and testing new ground also gives you contact with more people, a chance to make new friends and you might even wind up touching someone else's life or helping them move forward. At our age, "there is nothing to fear but fear itself," FDR.

As you know, I've fairly recently gone through this process myself. I had dreamed of writing a novel all my life. I had envisioned so much about the story I wanted to tell and years went by. Now, at 68, I have written that novel and it has been published! This took time and didn't happen over night, but it has now happened. It is doing nicely, but will my audience grow or will it fall short of success? I've taken that risk and there is much more to do to nurture the dream. I didn't even know that; that the author has to keep working even after the book is published!

But whether my book becomes "successful" in the traditional definition of the word, or not, does not take away from a personal success story. Whatever happens, it has been an exciting personal saga and the fulfillment of a dream. I also get to leave something behind after I'm gone, something that I think is lovely and will surely touch some souls. And I also got introduced to you, made a new friend, and have found your support truly uplifting.

This is a great piece, Yvonne. Bravo!

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