Ideas, Matches and Bonfires

Originally published: 11/2011 by J Wynia

I think of a successful business, product or service as a bonfire. The idea is a match or spark or friction. Without that, you won't be able to start the fire. That makes the idea critical.

However, unless someone provides tinder, kindling and a steady supply of firewood, your bonfire will be, at best, a quick flash of light and heat and then a charred match.

After the fire has been built up and it settles into a proper bonfire, you've got a pile of hot coals that are lighting the additional wood that gets added and it becomes an engine for heat and light.

From the perspective of those sitting around the fire and enjoying its output hours after it was started, the guy who brought the match is important, but hardly worth praising over those who gathered the pile of firewood that will fuel the fire into the night.

Too often in business, I see the guy who had the idea getting disproportional recognition. Ideas are plentiful (matches are sold in boxes of thousands of them) and pretty much disposable. But if you really want a fire that burns strongly and for a long time, someone has to do the hard work of either gathering or cutting/splitting/drying and preparing the firewood.

I've been in meetings where literally hundreds of ideas are recorded in an hour. Any one of those ideas might require 10,000 hours of human effort to see it to completion.

I love ideas. I keep a notebook full of them. But, I make my living from turning those ideas into blazing bonfires.

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