How to get at that idea stuck in your head

June 5, 2015


When a great idea flashes in our brain it feels astounding. Startling. Energizing. The adrenaline makes our eyes open wide, our hands clap together, our spine straighten. We might even let out a whoop of joy before we rush off to tell someone.

But sometimes — between the thinking and the telling — we get a little stuck. The solution that was crystal clear in our head minutes ago is sounding more and more like Dumbledore speaking Gobbledegook when we say it out loud.

This is when we get stuck acting like a Fuzzy Forecaster. It comes with its own special brand of frustration because we can see the possibilities, we just can’t fully grasp them. On the upside, reaching clarity is usually more streamlined than other types of stuck moments. Once we know what’s blocking our communication, there are some pretty easy fixes to adjust our thinking.

To fine-tune your thoughts, first take our mini-quiz to find what’s blurring your idea.

Fuzzy Forecaster mini-quiz
Think of a time when you had the start of a really good idea but couldn’t clearly explain or define it. Then quickly answer the following three questions:

How did you Feel when you couldn’t fully explain your idea?
A. Stymied.
B. Scattered.

C. Unsure.

What did you Think when you couldn’t fully explain your idea?

A. They haven’t invented the right words for this.
B. This could go in so many directions.

C. I need to get this right.

What did you Do when you couldn’t fully explain your idea?

A. Talked in circles.
B. Asked lots of people for advice.

C. Went back and forth with a couple of approaches.

If you chose mostly A answers, read about Stifled Forecasters, below. Mostly Bs, you’re likely an Expansive Forecaster. Cs are On-the-Fence Forecasters. If you had a mix of letters, you’re a hybrid, which means you’ll find parts of yourself in all three types.

A. When you act like a Stifled Forecaster
You can fully see it in your brain — and it’s brilliant! But try to translate your big idea and the words escape you. It becomes more and more vexing as you put it this way and that; meanwhile, the only thing you’re making clear is that you’re not making your point.

You need to approach your idea from several different angles. When the straight-ahead perspective stubbornly remains out of focus, it helps to view your ideas from the top down or from the side or even from the inside out. New words and pictures will appear in your head that will sharpen and connect the dots.

Try this exercise to shift your perspective.

B. When you act like an Expansive Forecaster
You’re flying high with ambition, on the brink of greatness. Your idea grows bigger and better every day — until it starts to get unwieldy. There are so many options, so much potential everywhere you look, that you’re getting lost in the possibilities. You’d like to put a stake in the ground, but your mind is too cluttered with brainstorms.

You need to see more in less. All those “and then we can do this!” brainstorms you keep having? Put them aside (temporarily) so you can return to the essential goodness of your concept. Then you can systematically polish your thoughts into easy-to-explain language that will serve as a grounding foundation for what could come next.

Try this exercise to get back to basics.

C. When you act like an On-the-Fence Forecaster

Your gut says you’re onto something, and you’re ready to see it and believe it — if only the idea weren’t so chancy. So you decide to keep one foot in each camp. You know, just in case. But that makes things a little murky. People are confused. What are you trying to achieve, exactly?

You need to take a stand, even if your idea doesn’t fly. At this moment in time, the only person to concern yourself with is yourself. If you can tunnel back down to what you think, discarding the safeguards that are mucking things up, your original idea will resurface. You want to stay with your gut and avoid overthinking things.

Try this exercise to surface what you really believe.

DOWNLOAD THE PRINTABLE WORKSHEET: What’s the big idea? 6 ways to turn your fuzzy thoughts into a crystal-clear concept

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