Telling vs. Showing Ideas

“Words may show a man’s wit but actions his meaning.”

Benjamin Franklin

Do you remember the practice of show & tell in grade school? I can’t recall any personal experiences of doing it, but essentially the idea is to bring in something to show the class and then talk about it. I’m guessing it helps a child practice their public speaking skills and also gives the class a chance to get to know each other. What I find most interesting about it is the practice’s name and subsequently order:

It’s show, then tell.
Not tell then show.

I’m torn about sharing ideas. On one hand, you get to share part of who you are and what you dream about doing. And you have the potential to connect with others who have similar dreams as you. But, on the other hand, sharing ideas fizzles your moment. By sharing an idea, we feel as though we have already created it, and therefore never actually do it. It also leaves you vulnerable for someone to steal your idea for their own.

As you can see, there’s a fine line for us to walk as creatives and entrepreneurs. We want to get our ideas out there — but not too much.

One thing that potentially muddled the conversation is when you mix in different levels of success.

At a certain point of relative success, (where you have a large following of people who know you and enjoy your work) sharing is beneficial. Your audience becomes a great way to validate ideas. You take a poll and receive valuable insights. You’re also slightly protected by your clout, because if anyone who’s is “not as known” copies your idea, then it’s less stealing and more like they look up to you and want to live as you do. And if someone tries to steal from you, your core audience has got your back.

But if you are an individual artist and you make something, there’s not much they can do if a big box store decides to copy it. You also reach as many people, so someone else can come to the same idea (honestly or not) and potentially do it better.

Fame brings it’s own problems, of course. Regardless, in my book—at least where I am know—telling your ideas before you do them is usually a bad move. We’ll either lose our motivation to do it or send it up for someone else to slam dunk it.

(Side note: it depends on your intentions. If you want to give ideas away, then sharing them with friends, clients or potential customers is a great idea.)

Here’s my rule of thumb —

Share what you are doing, not what you want to do.

If you haven’t started yet, then don’t share until you start.

Of course, this doesn’t assure someone else won’t do the idea before you do. A secret idea never executed is even less beneficial than a shared idea stolen.

Show us what you can do. Then tell.

It’s better to be a person of action than be someone who only talks.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #886

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