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  • Writer's pictureAnton Zemlyanoy

Build a support system for new ideas

And protect them from cynicism and subjective well-wishers


New ideas are often fragile. Not formed into a specific shape. Unable to answer questions as to why, for whom, for what exactly. All the questions that can be very useful in helping ideas take shape, but when asked too early, or with too much impatience, or with excess cynicism, can have too negative impact on the idea itself.

So when an idea is fresh, we need to protect it. Not necessarily from malicious intent, but from unaware bypassers who can accidentally damage it, simply because they haven’t noticed how disproportionately heavy their approach is to the young idea.

We do this for young trees. We create supportive and protective structures to help the tree mature. We don’t say “Well, if the tree has enough potential, if the tree is a sound idea, it will grow by itself without any support.” No, we recognise that there is a time for supporting the tree until it is strong enough. We can accidentally bump into an "adolescent" tree and it will not be affected. We can bump with the exact amount of force into a tree that’s just starting to grow and we will damage it, sometimes irreversibly.

Protect new ideas, picture of a tree with support
Photo taken in North Bondi, Sydney

I have a dear friend with whom we both agreed that I would no longer share brand-new ideas with him that cannot yet withstand his rational, fact-based, somewhat sceptical questioning. Because it is not what the idea needs at that stage. For example, when I wanted to record video interviews, his first response was: “But you are not an interviewer!”. And he was partially right. But as a result, some of my energy was diverted towards processing his idea, his established concept of me, rather than on what I wanted to create. He was right that I wasn’t an interviewer, because I never formally interviewed. Just like I at some point wasn’t a runner until I started running. Just like I wasn’t a coach until I started coaching. Just like I wasn’t a father until I started… well, until I became a parent.

That same friend, however, is an ideal person to go to when I need a brutally honest, although still subjective, opinion about what may not work in any idea. Because he will tell me exactly what he thinks and I can practice defending, or strengthening, whatever I’m working on. So we agreed that I would share with him whatever I’m working on only when it is strong enough to take his sceptical questioning.

And just like in some other texts I've written, here is my invitation:

When you’re thinking of starting anything new, think of where your ideas could use supportive structures.

A structure could consist of people who can see the potential in a seed. People who understand that seeds need time to grow, that seeds need the right conditions to grow in. A structure could be a course. Or it could be a book. Or an internal agreement with yourself. Or any combination of the above. Make it work for you.

Just remember that a seed needs to be planted in the first place and, at certain times, supported.

P.S. I have more to say about creating nurturing conditions for ideas and about not taking the seed out of the ground prematurely, which is a result of an ongoing dialogue with a psychotherapist friend of mine. But to be congruent with the above text, I will write about it in due time. For now, make sure you sign up below to be notified when these thoughts are published.


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