How many times have you had a brilliant idea pop into your head, only to be consumed by the multitudes of other brilliant ideas swirling around in your brain on a constant basis? How often do we have a strike of inspiration and write it down on a sticky note, only to then lose track of it and never do anything to complete it?
As thought-leaders, we often are champions of casting vision. However, the number of things pulling for our daily attention make it far less likely to bring those visions to completion. If you took a look at your journal, iPhone notes or voice memos, would there be a ton of ideas that you never took the time to develop? I’m guessing, if you’re the same as me, then the answer is yes.
So, how on earth do we move forward in creating our Legacy when we have so many ideas floating around in our heads?
I would like to pose this question to you: in casting a clear vision, have we combined two processes that should have been kept separate? Often, we are all familiar with the brainstorming process (ideation). However, we are often at a loss for a process for creating clarity of thought. How do we change this pattern and take steps toward finishing projects that we are proud of?
Let’s evaluate a system used to create structure for books and keynote speeches, called the Story Inventory System.
When helping authors structure keynote speeches, we use a system called the Story Inventory System. Developing new ideas for writing a book or speech is easier than you might think when you follow these steps.
The pros in the professional speaking industry leverage their key ideas for speeches by creating an inventory of their key stories. They develop these ideas from brainstorming, interviews, life experiences, inspirational stories and studying other thinkers.
Then from the inventory of key stories they choose to communicate, the pros select which stories support their core ideas for each keynote speech.
If you are working up ideas for a speech or a book, you can use this system to develop and illustrate your content. The concept to remember is this: you never tell a story without making a point, and never make a point without telling a story. Here’s how:
- Brainstorm an inventory of ideas that you want to write or speak about. Don’t stop until you get a list of 25 to 50 ideas.
- List three bullet points for each idea, which are the main points you want to communicate for each idea.
- Craft a story that encapsulates each point you want to make. The stories can come from your own life experience, or you can borrow stories from friends, celebrities or even historical figures.
- Rehearse telling these stories in 2-4 minutes per story. I find little pockets of unused time to practice these stories, such as in the shower or behind the wheel of my car.
Writing a speech with this system is easy. First, take a look at the master theme of the event where you are speaking. Next, look at the inventory of stories you developed—your story inventory. Then pull stories from your inventory that work together to support the flow of your speech.
After you have had a brainstorming session through the Story Inventory System, pick a single idea and make it your highest priority to bring life and depth to that point. Are you sitting down to write an article, speech or song? Set apart time to work solely on it, from start to finish. Move away from distractions. When you are feeling stuck, the temptation is often to jump to something else that better captures your attention.
What if this resistance was actually telling you that what you are working on currently is very significant, and if you move onto something else you might miss out on the opportunity to complete something that is life-changing? We often encounter the most creative blocks when we are creating something that is important.
When working on a project or building our personal legacy, the questions remain the same: what is it that you want to be known for? What is it exactly that you are trying to articulate? Are you being clear and concise about the point you are trying to make? Who is your intended audience?
If you are unsure about the direction you want to go, the emotion you want to evoke or the people you are speaking to, it will translate in your work. Take time to make sure that you aren’t combining two ideas that should be separated into different pieces. Ask someone if they understand where you’re trying to go and what you’re trying to say, and if they are unclear, it’s time to sit down and re-write.
As you create a clear foundation upon which to build, it should be clear where to set your intentions. You’ll see a staggering progression in your professional life as you get clear on your foundation.
The power of a SINGLE idea is this: there is a rare beauty in the simplicity of thought.
Bryan Heathman is the President of Made for Success Publishing and the host of the Book Publishing Success podcast show. Bryan works with best-selling business authors, including NYT best-selling authors Chris Widener and Tom Hopkins, plus up-and-coming authors including Johnny Covey. Bryan is the author of Conversion Marketing, a marketing book on converting website visitors into buyers. Bryan’s Fortune 500 experience includes Microsoft, Eastman Kodak and Xerox.