Do You have an Aversion to Ideas?


When someone proposes an idea, what’s your first reaction?

Mine is typically, “How are we going to do that?” My mind starts to churn with the logistics. At Peake Media, we have a small team that does a lot. So when an idea is mentioned, I automatically begin to question my role and what I’ll have to do to get it done. This often results in slight — well, sometimes more than slight — panic. My brain races ahead, examining my already full plate and wondering where room can be made for this potential idea.

Anyone else like that?

While planning ahead and thinking logistically is one of my strengths — please read my blog on Google Calendars if you have doubts — it can also be a weakness. I like to know how stuff is going to get done. I am a doer, a task-oriented person. I work better with clear direction versus vague ideas. I like my path and next steps laid out. Once you tell me where to go and how to get there, I’ll execute it with precision and effectiveness.

But when the answer is vague, my mind starts to burn with questions. And then I stress out. Often I shut down and nix ideas before they can even be fully processed. It takes everything in me to remain calm.

As a media company, we come up with ideas all the time. We are always trying to grow and expand. Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been specifically thinking about how to serve our audiences better. Of course, ideas have ensued.

The first meeting didn’t go so hot; I began to think of how I would accomplish the ideas being thrown out. My chest started to constrict and I began to speak negatively of doing anything different.

Well, my editor-in-chief reminded me these meetings are a chance to dream. Initially, those dreams don’t need paths to reality. Perhaps down the road they will, but not right now. She encouraged me to look at those ideas as simply that — ideas with no plans for execution.

So, this week’s follow-up meeting went much better. Sure, my head wanted to go straight to “How in the world will we do THAT?” but it was my job to ignore those thoughts. I would push them away when they popped up, shushing them until further notice.

And what do you know? We got some awesome ideas for content opportunities. In fact, an idea or two at first thought to be slightly ridiculous ended up being some of our ideas with greatest potential. If I had shut those down due to trying to figure out how to accomplish them, they never would have been considered.

All of that to say, the next time you find yourself in a brainstorm session, turn off that side of your brain. Allow your ideas to flow freely. Propose even the most harebrained and out-there thoughts you have. Often, those will mold and form into something you would never have thought of before. It’s a freeing thing; allow yourself to brain-vomit, as I call it. And be OK with dreaming big without knowing how to accomplish it… yet.

Heather Hartmann
Heather Hartmann is the editor for Campus Rec Magazine. She can be reached at

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