- I come up with some cool idea or approach to solve a problem
- I tell someone about it
- That person tells me that I ought to patent it and/or make money off of it
It kills me when this happens.
First, this perspective directs the motivation from intrinsic to extrinsic. I came up with the idea because I thought it would be cool if it existed. The mere fruition of the idea would make me very happy. It’s not about the money or the credit. It’s about solving some issue to make my or other people’s lives better.
Second, we put too much importance on “protecting” our ideas. Honestly, it’s unlikely that someone will steal your idea. There’s an enormous amount of work that goes into turning an idea into reality.
“Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.” – Thomas Edison
If someone does happen to do all the work of following through on your idea, then they probably deserve to reap the benefits.
Third, ideas don’t really belong to anyone. They simply arise in the process of creativity, which builds upon ideas that others have come up with.
Fourth, ideas become more useful when they’re allowed to mingle with other ideas, especially from different minds. Something idealistic might turn into something practical. Or perhaps an approach to one problem will solve another problem.
The bottom line:
- Ideas are cheap
- Execution is expensive
- Ideas multiply in effectiveness when they’re shared
- All of the above are required to get something valuable
As for my situation, it’s clear that I need to be even more open with my ideas. So that’s exactly what I’m doing. Check out my new project at http://ideas.sonicans.net where I’ll be sharing all sorts of ideas. Some will be ones I have or intend to follow through on. But this won’t be the case for most of them. So if you see something you like or find interesting, feel free to take the idea. To share and discuss it. To remix it. To bring it to life. I hope the world will be better off for it.