From Light Bulb to Lamp
March 1, 2011 1 Comment
“Good ideas are common – what’s uncommon are people who’ll work hard enough to bring them about” –Ashleigh Brilliant (English author and cartoonist)
Many times when we think of a great idea, we think of a person with a lightbulb over his or her head (a quick search on Google Images for the word “idea” will confirm this connection). It struck me this afternoon while I was doing laundry that a light bulb is an appropriate symbol for an idea. Now, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that a light bulb that is not connected to a power source will not stay lit. A light bulb must be screwed into a lamp (or other electrical socket) to be useful for its owner. It will be useless until it is put into a socket that gives it energy and purpose. Once it is screwed in, the light bulb brings light into a once dark or dim place.
Just like a light bulb needs to be connected to a lamp, an idea needs to be connected with people who will put in the effort to make it a reality. As the quote above indicates, most ideas take hard work to bring them to life. It is unfortunate that the vast majority of ideas are just that: ideas. Many never get fleshed out, others are poorly executed and fail. In fact, what made Thomas Edison‘s incandescent light bulb so groundbreaking was not only that he made the bulb; he also created an entire system that made it economically viable to implement it on a large scale (read more here). He was able to take the light bulb and turn it into a lamp…literally.
If you have an idea that you are truly passionate about, act on it. It doesn’t matter if it is a business idea, story idea, activity idea, or ministry idea. Here are some simple steps using the light bulb analogy that can help you take an idea and turn it into a reality:
- Decide what kind of light bulb you want– Do you need a light bulb for a lamp, ceiling fan, or food warmer? The answer to this question determines what kind of bulb you need. When trying to discover an idea, you must first decide what it will be used for: solving a problem, creating an event, improving a design, etc. The search for an idea is futile without a purpose.
- Buy a light bulb– Just like light bulbs, ideas can be acquired in a variety of ways. I often get ideas from my surroundings and experiences, though some people get their ideas through intentional thought and brainstorming. Find what works best for you and do it. Once you have chosen the idea, write it down. If you are like me, you have had several good ideas slip through your fingers because you forgot to write them down immediately.
- Examine the light bulb– When it comes to idea generation, many people stop at Step 2 (hence the light above the head picture). To take an idea to the next level, it needs to be examined with questions like: “Is it feasible?” “Can I execute it?” “What resources will be needed?” “Will it accomplish my original goal?” This process will enable you to see the details that will make the idea work. Sometimes during the examination process, you may find that an idea may not be ready or able to be made into a reality and that is just fine. Write it down and shelve it for another day when conditions may be better.
- Screw the light bulb in– Now that have an understanding of how your newly purchased light bulb is supposed to work, it is time to screw it into a socket. Sockets for ideas come in many shapes in sizes. For some it may require giving your idea and plan to someone else and letting them plug it in for you. For others, it may involve designing a custom socket for your idea because nothing like it has ever been done before. Whatever the case is, you must find the right channel for your idea to reach reality.
- Flip the switch– The time has come to bring the light bulb to life! All the work of discovering, evaluating, and fleshing out your idea climaxes with making it a reality! Now others get to see your idea and benefit from it. The step from idea to reality looks different depending on what kind of idea it is, but they all have the same result: bringing something completely new and original on to the scene.
- Share the light with others– Your idea is now a reality, so now what? I suggest that you share it with others (This point can actually be put anywhere in this process depending on the type of idea and what resources you will need). Letting others know about your idea will create a group of individuals who can be advocates for it. They will also help you to continue building upon your idea and fine-tuning it.
- Pay the electric bill– Light bulbs must be connected to electricity in order to continue working. In much the same way, once an idea becomes a reality, it is crucial to keep giving it the attention and energy that it needs to continue on.
*NOTE: These steps may not apply to all ideas. Feel free to adapt or modify them to make them work for you.
That is just a brief and flexible list of steps to turn an idea into a reality based on my experiences. If you have any further suggestions, please share them in the “Comments.” Otherwise, the next time you have a great idea, follow these steps and turn your light bulb into a lamp!
Learn It. Love It. Live It.
[image credit: Julian Santacruz on Flickr]