God, grant me the serenity to accept the ideas I cannot execute…

I have lots of ideas, piles of them.

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In the past two years, I’ve squirreled away 374 blog post ideas, while writing maybe 10% of them. They range from “The Most Important Things I Taught Our Toddlers” to “Being Optimistic is the Worst” to “It Never Hurts to Ask.”

I’ve recorded 41 big ideas, for books and products and projects. These include as diverse brilliance as a book called Human: Reclaiming Our Call to Be Creatures to an app to help busy dads use their limited time with their kids really well to a single egg carrier (for all those upstart hipster poultry farmers).

Once a couple years ago, I had a standard 30-minute meeting with two coworkers about some communications plans. At the end, we stood up, and one of them looked at me a bit bewildered.

I can’t believe how many ideas you have.

To which I replied in a whisper,

And that’s only the ones I say out loud!

A couple weeks ago, I was talking to my friend Jon. He’s a pastor and has a beard, so he’s super wise. I lamented my lack of time in pulling off one of my ideas. He replied by tweaking the cliche-but-still-kind-of-helpful “serenity prayer” into the quote you see here, riffing off my blog title.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the ideas I cannot execute,the courage the execute the ones I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. (Click here to tweet this.)

For “idea people,” this is a core competency to learn–which ideas to execute (i.e. kill) and which ideas to execute (i.e start, perform, do). And my boss has helped me see that a key area for growth for me is making this call. It’s really hard, as my “idea engine” is always revving.

And that’s what this blog is about, I suppose–“choosing and living the best ideas.”

How do you decide?

  • http://jessicafick.com Jess Fick

    I’ve had some ideas about this recently- hee, hee. I’m the same way- I can barely contain myself with ideas I get excited about and share with others. The last few months I’ve had a torrent of ideas including starting a direct sales business to sell handmade jewelry from single moms in Nairobi to writing a book on Thift store shopping, to completely overhauling the way my living room looks. whew. I had a moment of clarity on the way home from staff conference during our 10 hour drive. My brilliant husband helped me to realize- “why don’t you just do the things you’re about instead of all the other things you’re thinking about?” simple question. brilliant question.
    So I thought of a few questions to help my idea propellor to slow down a little bit. And to dial back the amount of things I share with others because I really am driving them crazy :)
    1. Does this idea fit with the current mission God has given me? Does it distract from the main purpose which he’s called me to? (this requires having some sense of what those things are)
    2. Do I have the time to put energy into actually making this idea happen? To my living room idea I axed it because we were having company for the weekend and I realized they would probably enjoy a clean kitchen more than a rearranged living room.
    3. Do I have the money to make this happen? My ideas always begin BIG BIG BIG. And I have to scale them back reminding myself- take small steps. In the case of the jewelry sales I am pursuing this by having my sister-in-law bring some of the beads back from Kenya and having one in-home party to see how it goes. Small investment, small steps, still pursuing it but on a much reasonable scale than opening a store and needing to invest thousands of dollars.
    4. What is this going to cost my family if I pursue this idea? I’d love to do a triathlon some day. Is this the right time to do that with a first grader, a preschooler, a husband in a rigorous cohort for work, a book I’m supposed to be writing and living in freezing cold Cleveland? Right now is not the right time. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be the right time in the future.
    5. How can I internally process all my ideas before sharing them with others so I don’t stress them out? Doug Schaupp told me after we led our seminar at SC that “my creativity stressed him out.” That’s something coming from Doug who is really, really creative. I realized that writing them down is helpful so I can get them out but then only pitch a couple to people that are appropriately sized to what we are working on.
    6. Recognize there are very few people who know me well enough to let me talk and spew all the ideas and it won’t stress them out. My husband is one of them. York is another. they have both known me long enough to realize that probably only 2% of what I come up with will only happen. And then that 2% will likely look entirely different than it’s original iteration.
    7. I think I need to write a blog post on my own blog sharing these ideas :)

  • http://airmeka.blogspot.com emeka

    Oh how i love this “God, grant me the serenity to accept the ideas I cannot execute,the courage to execute the ones I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

    For me this prayer works too ;

    “God, grant me the serenity to outsource (by sharing, open source) the ideas I cannot execute,the courage to execute the ones I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

    I used to and still have documented so many many (tech) ideas so recently i started – a blog (airmeka.blogspot.com ) to share ideas i could not pursue due to focusing on other top things on my DO.list.

    The very first idea i shared, i got two calls from people who were interesting in actualising it and inputing my help were needed.

    Very timely to see this write up. We need to keep focus on what matters.

    Thanks Adam

    • Adam Jeske

      You’re welcome, Emeka–so cool to have readers in Nigeria!