Constantly Test Your Ideas To Make Sure You’re Not Settling

Constantly Test Your Ideas To Make Sure You’re Not Settling

You’ve probably had a bad idea at some point; we all have. David Hansson, creator of Ruby on Rails, notes that the problem is holding on to that bad idea for too long.

Picture: Corey Templeton/Flickr.

If you spend any time talking ideas or approaches with someone else, chances are you’ve heard the phrase “your mileage may vary”. It’s a way to say that something that works for me may not work for you, or at least as well as it was advertised to. Sometimes, that’s valid. Your personal note-taking system is tailored for your use, not mine. But that doesn’t mean I can’t find it useful.

However, if you rely on the YMMV mentality too much, it can become a crutch that makes us reluctant to toss out our latest idea and search for a better one. Hansson writes:

Ideas are meant to be attacked, torn apart, and put back together again. You may well want to shield your idea from the harsh sunlight at first, but by the time it’s ready to meet the world, it should also be ready for rain or shine. Bad ideas are supposed to wither under the stress of criticism.

Hell, even good ideas are supposed to wither in the winter of their life. Precious few ideas are immortal, and even those should be constantly tested to ensure their hearts still beat vibrantly.

So tinker. If an idea works for you, ask yourself if it’s just a personal preference or if there’s a way you could make it work for anyone. Don’t be afraid to follow Faulkner’s advice and kill your darlings.

Everything is not equally good [37signals]


  • Great post! I would only add, that when seeking feedback, be ready for and strong enough to handle the naysayers. Some people are just cynical. You need to be able to weather their negativity. So when they say their opinion. You say “why do you think that?” until you get to the real reason.

    Or you say “okay, thanks ” and and move on to the next person. Some people are toxic, and that’s the biggest problem with feedback. Sorting the good from the bad.

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