You never know when you are going to have a good idea – they can come at any moment, regardless of your current activity, or the convenience level of writing them down. Unfortunately, I am painfully aware of all the times I am struck with absolute genius, only to forget what it was by the time I
got up from my nap and took out a pen and piece of paper.
I am going to make the assumption that you have had a good idea at some point in your life … and the fact that you’re on my site won’t be held against you.
I spent the majority of my time last week in Orlando, Florida, at the American Institute of Architects National Convention. This is a convention that I have attended regularly for the past few years and for the most part, I enjoy the opportunity to see my friends and colleagues who are scattered all over the country. The big highlight of my week was when I finally went through the formal investiture for the College of Fellows. What is that you ask? Imagine a high school graduation ceremony for people who are a bit more advanced in years.
The College of Fellows, founded in 1952, is composed of members of the Institute who are elected to Fellowship by a jury of their peers. I was recognized and elevated to Fellow for my efforts to make the profession of ever-increasing service to society. That’s a pretty good reason, right? If you are an architect, you’ll probably admit that this is a big deal. If you’re not an architect, let me just tell you that less than 3% of all AIA architects are ever recognized with this honor. As I was sitting there, waiting for my name to be called so that I could walk across the stage and receive my medal, I’m pretty sure that I had at least 2 or 3 good ideas that I promptly forgot.
So what does any of this have to do with good ideas? Not much really, other than to let you know that I understand that we can’t always be in a position to do something with a good idea when we actually have one.
Now that I am back in the office, and faced with the more mundane activities that come with running a business, I actually have some time to do something about the things I think about (i.e. write a blog post). There are three partners in my office, and while I don’t write much about either of them, today I am going to focus on a brief conversation I had with Audrey Maxwell.
Audrey does her fair share of volunteer work, one of which is that she is a Board Director for the Epilepsy Foundation- Texas. For the second year in a row, she is working on “Cornament” fundraiser … it’s a cornhole tournament. My office entered this
tournament cornament last year … maybe you remember this picture of our team jerseys?
Naming our team “Mies van der Throw” is an example of a good idea. In fact, our participated in a 5K earlier this year and our team name was “Mies van der Strohl” …
I’ve already told the office we need to enter a BBQ contest, and our team name would then need to be “Mies van der Grill“. See? That’s one good idea that keeps on delivering! … but back to my story about Audrey.
Audrey is on the cornhole committee (delightful name, isn’t it?) and she had the idea to have local artists paint the cornhole boards, used during the competition, and then auction those boards off at the end of the tournament to raise additional funds. This is an example of an incredibly good idea – right? So anyway, Audrey told me today that she had this idea of making a video of one of the artists transforming a mundane regulation cornhole board into a work of art as a way of promoting the event. As she suggested this to the cornhole committee, the response was instantaneously positive … and then they told Audrey to “make it happen.”
That’s the thing about good ideas. When you share them with a group, you are either in a position to tell others to do it, or everyone looks at you with the expectation that you are the champion of your own idea and that you will take on the work and creative effort to make it a reality. This is something that everybody learns at one point or another in their lives. I know that when Audrey was sharing her idea with the committee, she was thinking “I came up with this great idea, now who is going to help me make this happen?” … except it rarely works out that way, particularly so when people are donating their time and abilities for charity. Believe me when I say I know this from first-hand experience … I learned this lesson 8 years ago when I started the playhouse design competition. Everybody thinks it’s a great idea but in the end, I do most of the heavy lifting.
So the next time you have a good idea and you are about to share it with the group, you should know that you will be the person responsible for making it happen
ps – if you are in the Dallas/ Fort Worth area and are interested in badly losing to me in cornhole on Friday, June 23, 2017, more information on how to participate can be found on the Epilepsy Foundation Texas website (here)