Your first idea is not your best idea

The following scenario happens to me on repeat:

When starting a project, I make a quick sketch, see a “perfect” example, or jot down some idea that I think is just the tops.

I misplace it.

Then I become convinced that it was the key to my genius, and I cannot move forward solidly without it.

Then I find it, and it is complete crap. I’m finally free to move forward toward something smarter.

Does this happen to you?

Obviously a lot of good thinking happens between that first moment of conceptualization and the process of planning a feasible, delightful idea. And not all first ideas are bad ideas. Sometimes they are just raw and require cooking.

But in a way, that bad first idea is good. It’s good because it exposes that there is a problem begging for a solution. It’s a note that there is something there to work with, something to improve.

First ideas can also be very, very dangerous. What happens when bad “first ideas” become idealized rather than rejected? Instead, repeated as mantras? What happens when your internal criticism fails you, or you don’t have someone to help you workshop your ideas? Are these the projects you aren’t proud of?