The Idea Guy



It’s first down with ten to go and less than a minute on the clock. The quarterback grabs the snap and steps back. He maneuvers behind the line considering his options, as the defense mounts its rush. He cocks his arm and throws a beautiful spiral pass that defies gravity as it floats in the air. Too bad there is nobody anywhere near where the pass is coming down. The ball lands with a thud and rolls out of bounds.


Do you know these guys? The ones who call themselves idea people. Give me a break! I have files full of ideas. Million-dollar ideas. Multi-million-dollar ideas. Seriously. Call me up and I’ll give them to you. They are worthless if you don’t have the energy and the guts to execute them. It doesn’t matter how good an idea is if you aren’t ready to get beat up and tackled as you run the ball down the field, or if you aren’t organized enough to have a team and a strategy to get someone else run the ball across the goal line for you.


To me, ideas are worth nothing unless executed. They are just a multiplier. Execution is worth millions. — Steve Jobs

Do you know who the first person was to have the idea for manned flight? Of course you don’t. The idea appeared at least as far back as the Greek myth of Icarus, more than 2,700 years ago, but we can guess with confidence that people thought of it long before that. So why do we know and celebrate the Wright brothers, and not the prime progenitor of the proposition for man’s winged wandering? I will tell you why: it is because ideas are easy and execution is hard, and we celebrate that which is difficult.


We choose to go to the Moon […] not because [it is] easy, but because [it is] hard. — John F. Kennedy

Execution involves risk. Execution takes guts. Execution takes effort. And great execution takes great effort. That is why we honor the people who have made it happen, who have done the extraordinary, and who have gone beyond the norm. They are the ones who inspire us by showing what is possible. In 1954 people thought it was impossible to run a mile in under four minutes, until Roger Bannister did it, and proved that it could be done. Since then, over 1,400 athletes have broken the 4-minute mile. It is the people like Bannister, with spirit, discipline, and grit who raise us all to a higher level.


People don’t pay for average. — John Maxwell

Now, there are some folks who think their ideas are so good that other people should pick them up and run with them, maintaining that the idea was the thing. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against good ideas, and I have borrowed a few myself, but at the end of the day, great ideas are far more common than great execution, and it is the guy with the guts to grab the ball and go for it that I will be cheering.