The Idea Behind the Idea

Key Takeaways

  • When someone asks a question, there’s usually another, deeper question behind it; ideas work the same way.
  • There’s a five-step learning cycle that helps us refine our ideas: You have an idea, you write it down, you talk to someone else about it, you plan it, and you take action on it.
  • The more you repeat this five-step learning cycle on your idea, the more powerful and refined the idea becomes, to the point where you get to the idea behind the idea.

The 1982 movie “Night Shift,” has Michael Keaton playing across from Henry Winkler in a morgue. There’s a few famous quotes from the movie where Michael Keaton says, “I’m an idea man, Chuck. I get ideas all day long,” and then at another point he says, “Take live tuna fish and feed them mayonnaise! Oh this is great. [speaks in to recorder] Call Starkist!” It’s a funny movie, and the ideas Michael Keaton comes up with sound crazy.

Many times, we get an idea, but it’s really the idea behind the idea. Or, put another way, when someone asks a question, there’s usually a question behind that.

When I get questions like this, my answer to the person’s question is not direct. I usually address what I believe they really want to ask, but they have a hard time thinking about how to ask it.

Ideas work the same way.

You start off with an idea, you test it out, and you work on it to the point where what really comes out of it is the genesis of the idea. You have to push in to a deeper level, and the practical way to do that is to just go out and pitch your idea.

There’s a learning cycle we all go through that was never formally taught in school, but it has five steps:

  1. You have an idea.
  2. You write the idea down.
  3. You speak to someone else about your idea.
  4. You plan out the idea.
  5. You take action to execute or implement the idea.

You’ll typically go through this five-step cycle, and then repeat it, and the idea gets better. And if you keep going through the cycle, you’ll find that you’ll get to a real powerful idea that has some substance behind it.

As you move forward in life, in whatever you are trying to do, you can achieve this powerful idea behind the idea. I’ve seen many people take a lousy idea (feed the mayo to the tuna!) and bring it through the five-step process to the point where you’d never have believed they’d started off with something so seemingly ridiculous. And that’s really what the idea behind the idea is all about.

Until next time, enjoy.


Learn more about TransformingWealth™ , our proprietary approach, designed to get your arms around the big picture so you can make informed financial decisions. Ask Gary about Coyle’s TransformingWealth Preview Meeting, and schedule a complimentary consultation and start living the Good Life Managed Well™.

Gary Klaben is in our Glenview, IL office and serves our clients who are now located all over the country. He has over 30 years of experience and is the author of Changing the Conversation, Wealth of Everything and co-author of The Business BattlefieldWhether advising his clients, mentoring his team, or coaching entrepreneurs, he is always simplifying complexity and motivating others to take the next action that’s right for them.
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