Don’t just think great ideas, pursue them


This column begins where all the best stories begin: in Wal-Mart. Recently, I was strolling down the aisle with a cart full of groceries, when I saw a treasure sticking out of the $5 DVD bin: Inception.

I am not a movie person at all (the last movie I watched was Iron Man 3), but when I find a movie that I really like, I want to re-watch it. Inception is one of those movies that fascinates me each time.

One of my favorite quotes from the movie is, “What is the most resilient parasite? Bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm? An idea. Resilient…highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it’s almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed—fully understood—that sticks, right in there somewhere.”

That’s such a cool concept to me, because it’s so true. I have ideas bouncing around in my head almost constantly. Some of them are fleeting, but others won’t leave me alone until I set them to paper.

That’s how things happen: someone has an idea, and then they decide to do something about it. Every invention, every work of art, every piece of architecture, even the structure of our government, happened because someone had an idea. But our ideas are absolutely useless unless we make the decision to act on them.

I have a sign hanging on my living room wall that says, “Ideas are funny things. They don’t work unless you do.” This reminds me each day that I can spend all day thinking about and discussing with my friends, “I wish….” or “We should…” or “It would make so much more sense if…”, but the status quo will never change unless I stop talking and start acting.

What ideas are you holding in your head and ignoring? The next great American novel or a Billboard Top 40 hit? Advancements in medicine or technology? Ideas are great, as long as you back them up by your actions.

Another concept that Inception introduces is the idea of the totem, an object that helps the characters in the movie to know if they are in a dream or in reality.

Although the dreams in that case are literal subconscious dreams that people have while sleeping, I think that the idea of a totem could be applicable to dreams like goals that we have. After we form our ideas and decide to run with them, it’s important that we stay grounded. Not everything will work out exactly the way we want it to. We don’t need to be afraid to shoot for the stars, but we need to have something that helps us stay grounded.

As Arthur explains in the movie, “See, only I know the balance and weight of this particular loaded die. That way when you look at your totem, you know beyond a doubt you’re not in someone else’s dream.”

So what are your ideas and dreams? What’s your totem that helps you keep a firm grip on reality? And what are you waiting for? Why not listen to that resilient idea today that’s been in your mind for weeks, months, maybe years? Take your ideas, and make a difference.

10/03/2013


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