Are Ideas Worth Sharing?
The obvious answer we all want to say is, “Yes. Absolutely!” but there’s something to explore here as I recently discovered in myself a built-in hesitation, if not an outright fear, to do so. Frankly, I used to be the opposite! Proud to share my ideas with the world, maybe even too eager to do so.
Now, there’s a reservation in me. What happened? I asked myself. Then, I chose to dive into this fear, to uncover it, shine a light on it, and find out how to remove it. Because ultimately, I think ideas ARE worth sharing, even that they need to be shared, so we can learn, understand, and grow individually and collectively. I am a teacher, after all!
What’s The Fear and Why?
The fear is being attacked, criticized, ridiculed, hated, ostracized for my thoughts or ideas. It’s of saying something unintentionally ignorant and being condemned eternally for it.
Why do I fear this?
Well, first is that I see it—a lot. I could be placing my focus in the wrong spot, but I see it none the less. I see people voicing their ideas and having overt hostility and criticism, and even declarations of hatred getting thrown back at them. Also, I see people expressing peace, harmony, and caring for our fellow humans, but then attacking others for sharing opinions that don’t match their own. When we go to a party, we’ve heard that we should never talk about religion or politics. The evidence to me is clear: ideas not of our own are not wanted. Ideas are not worth sharing unless you want to be ostracized, criticized, and de-friended on Facebook. Lol.
There’s a deeper reason, though, which helps outline the solution for us in the next section. Ideas and thoughts are being looked at as some kind of permanent thing. That if you think something, have an idea for something, and voice it to the world, that idea and thought now defines who you are—forever. If it is not a perfect thought, I’m ignorant. If it’s not (insert your own beliefs on a subject), I don’t understand how life works. Do you see it?
Ignorance has become a crime.
But, ignorance is not to be admonished; it is to be enlightened. Ignorance unaddressed is surely a problem. Definitely. However, why is everyone so sure that the other person is the ignorant one? I walk through life under the assumption that I am unaware of so much and still have new perspectives to uncover. I have more questions to ask than statements to make. More, “what if’s” than “this is how it should be’s.”
The First Solution
There are two solutions I see. The first is the easiest. It’s a personal choice and perspective to not care so much about criticism. Darren Hardy, the former editor of Success Magazine, put it this way in one of the magazine’s articles.
Right after President Obama became elected for the first or second time, Darren looked at the numbers. Obama won with about 50% of the votes, probably 51% or something. Whatever it was, we know it wasn’t 90% of the votes. Darren realized that this man, in the most powerful seat in our country, was disliked or at least not wanted by nearly half of the people he now led. He concluded that seeking to be liked is clearly not the answer. Following our beliefs and convictions is the way to greater success in life, regardless of what others think of your ideas and opinions. Also, the path to better solutions is through sharing our thoughts, even if, and especially when they’re different.
I think that’s a challenging thing to adopt, though. To be okay with criticism, even hostile criticism. Something to work at, and in the meantime, let’s look at the next solution.
The GREAT Solution
I’m calling this second solution, the GREAT solution, because it’s something we can all do to promote sharing ideas, enjoy sharing them with others, and so on. I believe it’s where we need to head to make leaps forward in solving the world’s problems. Here it is:
Stop Drawing Lines in The Sand.
When we share our ideas, don’t put a line that says, “it’s my way or the highway.” Remove language that says “us vs. them.” In other terms, we need to turn debates into discussions.
A debate is when two people try to prove themselves right and the other person wrong. It can only create further division, as the person who is listening is merely doing so to get their rebuttal ready. And again, it promotes the idea that your thoughts are yours for life, for your job is to defend your position, not to see the other side. I mean, has anyone in history changed their mind during a debate?
But! If we approach our most passionate causes as a discussion rather than a debate, we suddenly remove the lines.
It’s no longer a contest to prove who is the victor and who is the loser. It’s just a time to learn from each other. There’s no “us vs. them.” It’s people coming together to understand each other, rather than secretly—and probably unknowingly—wanting to feel superior. If we create a space where we can discuss, we create a community of very different people, but people who can still get along.
Some Fantastic Examples.
The most recent example is the viral video series, “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man” by Emannuel Acho. I recommend them—highly. So does Oprah! : ) When I listen to him express his ideas and discuss ideas with others, I don’t see the lines in the sand. To me, it’s the most comfortable conversation I’ve watched.
The reason isn’t that he’s avoiding tough ideas to talk about; he is talking about them. It’s not because he’s avoiding to say what he feels or believes in; he is expressing himself. He’s not diminishing his passion and desire for change. The reason is that it’s a discussion, a conversation. It’s not a debate of trying to see who is right and who is wrong. It’s not an arena for victors and losers. No one is drawing lines in the sand. There is no “us vs. them.” It’s only, here’s my experience as a black man in the US, now let’s discuss. Let’s talk, share, as friends, as family, as a community, country, world.
Other great examples are The Joe Rogan Experience and TED talks. Joe Rogan is a master at discussing ideas with people of various opinions. TED talks are simply about sharing ideas. It’s a great platform. I’d love to talk more about these and more, but I gotta wrap this up! Check those out if you haven’t already.
Ultimately, I think it comes down to approaching the most challenging topics as a novice looking to learn and discover. Or, at the very least, genuinely being open to another point of view.
So, when we share our next thoughts with others or post on social media, let’s check to see what lines we’re possibly drawing in the sand. Are we saying, “you’re with me, or you’re against me”? Why are we sharing the idea? Is it to prove I’m right and others are wrong? Or, are we just sharing our thoughts and experiences?
LONG story short… ideas are worth sharing, and I’m going to be sharing a lot more going forward; but, I’m going to make sure I focus on HOW I share those ideas. I hope you join me.
Ideas Worth Sharing…
If you have ideas you wish to share with the world, talents, or knowledge, I would like to help. I’ve given a lot of thought during this time as to what I can do to build bridges, as Chip Gaines says, and one way is to help others get their message and ideas out there. So, I’d like to offer my skills and knowledge with Podcast Production and Writing to help you start your own podcast. Take a look at what I can do and let’s discuss : )