Discovering big ideas despite deep fears

A few weeks back I watched the movie "The Social Network." This movie is about the creation of Facebook and the interaction of former friends as they create a new social network. The birthing pains of creation are overshadowed by the grandness of the ultimate goal. I enjoyed the movie because it raised interesting questions for me. Could any of us come up with an idea capable of changing the social landscape? What stops us (students) from taking the next step and making our off-handed ideas into reality?

Now, I can only speak for myself when it comes to faults in my personal work ethic, but there must be a few out there reading this that have similar problems. The number one cause for me is fear. I am sometimes crippled by fear when it comes to new projects. I don’t know where to start; I don’t know what the reaction of other people will be. Fear is tricky and has many tools in its arsenal aimed at making me fail; fear makes me doubt myself. It starts in the back of my mind, working its way forward until it takes over every other thought process. This then leads to frustration and procrastination, which compounds the problem.

Procrastination is amazing at slowing the progress of completing anything. I’m sure we have all felt the sting of checking Facebook (ironically) one last time before starting our paper. Then before we know it, it is 2 a.m. and we have seven words on the screen. Then we feel motivated as we see the seconds tick down, time slipping away as the deadline looms over us. We vow to never let this happen again, the next project will be different; we will start it early and it will be amazing. Right after you check out that new picture your ex-girlfriend or boyfriend just posted, or check your farm in Farmville, or maybe going through one of the many informative quizzes. There’s so many things that need to be done.

A good friend of mine gave me some good advice concerning this subject. Just do the work and let everyone else decide whether it’s good or not. It could be a paper, or a piece of art, or making a website. This way it is done for yourself and you are happy with it, the rest of the world be damned. Of course, in some areas more than others this mentality works better. For example, you could be working in a cubical somewhere and your boss probably won’t care if you are emotionally fulfilled. He just wants the work done. This is unfortunate as it doesn’t really give you wiggle room to be creative, not that there aren’t creative ways to approach the work.

The point is the baseline idea of Facebook is not new or original. Most people have an interest in what other people are doing, whether they admit it or not. They want to know what their friends and family are doing when they aren’t around. In this age, we have an innate desire for knowledge; even if it is trivial and pointless.

Some of the most innovative services we use online were created when someone decided to just do it and let the chips fall where they may. They each went forward with their ideas; they put them out there for the world to see. They didn’t care what the consequences were going to be. Maybe we all could learn something from their approach, or at least use the fruits of their labors to distract us from our own.

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