What makes an idea actually matter? - THINKERS Notebook

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What makes an idea actually matter?

To begin, click here and watch this short video.

It's my favorite TED Talk of all-time.

And don't worry about having enough time. It's less than 3:00 minutes in length. 

I know it says 3:23, but the meat of it ends at the 2:52 mark when the speaker, Derek Sivers, says, "When you find a lone nut doing something great, have the guts to be the first one to stand up and join in."

Few presentations have ever packed as much meaning into three minutes as that one, especially for the purposes of this email newsletter, which is all about how to think better.

But what does it mean to "think better" anyway?

What is the purpose of such a pursuit?

  • To cut through distractions and find some semblance of mental clarity.
  • To make better decisions and lead a better life.
  • To solve problems.

Yes, yes, and yes.

But on the grandest and most important scale, the purpose of thinking better is to be able to improve the world -- in ways both big and small -- with our ideas.

And the only way to do that is to create movements. 

Now, "movement" can be an intimidating term.

Don't let it be.

You may not view yourself as someone like Gandhi or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who led worldwide movements in pursuit of equality that transcended time and location to still reverberate to this day.

And that's okay.

A movement is simply "a series of organized activities working toward an objective; an organized effort to promote or attain an end."

Consider someone like Jennifer, who I've never met but who lives near me in Richardson, Texas.

She started the Richardson Social Issues Fiction Club Meetup, which meets to "read novels about experiences you may or may not have been affected by, a place to discuss and open eyes to them (others/our own), to better our community, to create compassion for others who are different than ourselves." It has 29 members.

That's a movement too. It's a small movement, but it's a movement, and a small piece of the world is changing because of it.

And movements can be even more micro in scale than that.

Maybe a new healthy habit you start inspires someone you live with, or a friend, to follow suit. So you work together to be healthier. That's a movement too, and two lives are changing for the better because of it.

Here's the best way to think about this:

There are ideas, there are actions, and there are movements.

Ideas are thoughts, conceptions, or notions. They're essential. But when ideas just stay as ideas, they can't actually achieve anything.

When our ideas become actions, however, they start to produce tangible results that impact our own little corners of the world.

And when these actions attract other people who want to join in or follow suit, movements begin. And movements have influence. They create change.

It's often said that "ideas change the world." My favorite children's book ends this way. It's a nice sentiment, and it's a true in a sense; but it leaves out a few steps.

Ideas drive actions that inspire movements ... that change the world. 

And that's why the pursuit of thinking better is so important.

Movements matter, whether big or small. And movements can only start when one person performs an action and then another person joins in.

But what sparked the action? The idea.  

This is why we have to value our ideas, and why we have to give ourselves the time and space to explore, record, and reflect on them. 

And this is why we can't keep our best ideas to ourselves.

We need to act on them in the smartest and most strategic way possible, because our actions just might spark a movement that changes the world for the better.

Which brings me to Season 2 of the THINKERS Manifesto podcast.

In Season 1 of the THINKERS Manifesto podcast, we spent seven episodes tracing the "thinker's journey" to help you think better by understanding concepts like System 1 and System 2 thinking, how to use emotional circuit breakers, and the power of creative destruction.

Now, in Season 2, we are focusing on the potential of ideas and the importance of the execution in making them a reality. 

The first three episodes of Season 2 are out, and we hope you'll give them a listen.

You can listen here at the THINKERS Manifesto website.

You can also subscribe on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and anywhere else you listen to podcasts.

You can also click the links below to listen to the individual episodes.

Here are summaries of the first three episodes of Season 2:

Episode 8: The Idea That Led to a Journey

What matters more -- an idea or its execution? We explore that question in this season of the podcast, beginning with this episode.

We also take you inside of how we developed the THINKERS Notebook, from idea to movement, and some of the missteps we made along the way.

Episode 9: The Value of the First Follower

Using the aforementioned Derek Sivers TED Talk as a springboard, we explore how ideas gain steam and become actions that inspire movements.

In this case, I was actually the first follower after Sean got the ball rolling, and the way in which he welcomed me in as an equal was straight out of Derek Sivers' prescription for how to start a movement the right way.

Episode 10: Failure

Failure is painful, it leads us to doubt our capabilities, our ideas, our work. Failure can take a huge toll on us financially, emotionally, and psychologically.

And while success releases testosterone and dopamine into our system, failure has an entirely different effect – one that is purely psychological.

In this episode, we talk about the role of failure through the story of a failure we experienced when we first set out to launch our company.

And ... that's it. 

That's the newsletter this week.

No Workshop roundup or additional links, because we want you to listen to at least Episode 8 of the THINKERS Manifesto podcast. Hopefully if you enjoy that episode, you'll keep on listening.

We're dedicated to creating tools and resources that will help you become a better thinker.

But our motivation doesn't come from just wanting you to fill our notebooks (and app!) with your ideas. We want you to do actually do something with those ideas, and change the world in whatever way you're capable.

That's what we're trying to do with Sean's initial idea to create a better notebook, and Season 2 of the THINKERS Manifesto traces that arc so you know exactly where we're coming from and can learn from both our successes and our failures.

So please check it out, and then let us know what you think!