Married to an Idea: Is it Time for a Divorce?

Posted on 15. Feb, 2012 by in Growth, Leadership, Productivity

I’ve been working on an in-house project for a couple of months. It’s one of those things that can (and did) become almost all-consuming, as there were many components, all of which had to fit together into a cohesive unit for optimum effectiveness.

I was within days of launching it, when I realized that a major piece of it just wasn’t working for me. External review of what I thought was a close-to-finished draft surfaced this dissatisfaction, which finally smacked me in the face during a professional meeting last night. I realized that I was far from finished with this important component.

My initial reaction was one of despair. I’d been counting on launching this thing so I could move on to the next stage in my project. Having lived with it for several months, I was ready, even if it was not.

I immediately recognized the impending downward spiral in my mood, and was able to catch it quickly enough that I wasted no more than about a half-hour bemoaning the situation, before I realized that this was an opportunity! Had I launched the system in its current state, I would have totally missed the mark I was aiming for, and could have irreparably damaged the situation I was trying to address.

There followed several hours of brainstorming, writing myriad notes to myself and then sitting at the keyboard to capture all the new thoughts that came bubbling up, once I realized that (a) I had been very dissatisfied with the current state of the task; and (b) here was the opportunity to make it right.

I can’t call this a crisis, but given my personality I could have allowed it to turn into one.  You may have heard it said that the Chinese ideogram for “crisis” is made up of two components:  One, reads “danger”; the other, “opportunity”. (It turns out this probably isn’t true, but it makes for a good story, and the link is an interesting read.)

I’m thrilled that I stepped up to the danger and am taking advantage of the opportunity to address my earlier concerns. I think I’m on the right track now, and eagerly look forward to reworking the material. Launch will be delayed by no more than a week or two (fortunately, this is not time-constrained), and I find myself jazzed again in a way that I haven’t felt for too long.

I’m not divorcing the original idea, but we have gone into counseling.

Questions:  How do you know if something in which you’ve invested yourself is a good idea? How do you know if it’s time to “get a divorce”? What can be done to save the marriage? Should you?

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