We've all had bad ideas. God knows I've had them. There's something bone-chillingly mortifying about uttering a bad idea out loud, hearing with every new syllable just how truly terrible your godforsaken idea is. It's a slow-motion conceptual trainwreck in the middle of your conference room.
But we need bad ideas. They're actually a crucial part of the development process! So let's talk about a few ways to get the most of your ideas, even if they're terrible.
Let bad ideas show you what you really want
When you hear someone's idea (or your own) and you know it's not right, don't just stop there. Think it through. Try to actually articulate what exactly it is that doesn't work about the bad idea. By getting to the core of the issue and ascribing specific qualities that must be satisfied, you can figure out what it is that you're really looking for.
Get yourself thinking outside of the box
Sometimes, an idea can sound like a bad fit just because you haven't considered it before. Some of the most brilliant ideas of all time have been so outside the box that people just assumed they were crazy. Don't jump to conclusions about the merits of a new concept just because it isn't familiar to you. Examine the situation and think about this supposedly bad idea.
This is part of why we love to ask stupid questions. I often find that what felt like frustration can ultimately shake loose something else in my mind that I actually quite like. It may open you up to new possibilities. It may show you a new angle to the problem you hadn't considered before. It might even just be so refreshingly off that it clears your head for a second and lets you tackle the issue with fresh eyes.
Keep moving forward
This is what really matters most. I often used to feel flummoxed by a fear of taking a wrong step. The thought of choosing poorly filled me with anxiety, no matter how small the decision was: What if I got the trout when what I really wanted was the risotto? How would I ever be able to live with myself?
But that's not how life works. You don't get infinite time to brainstorm every last detail into oblivion. The only way to solve a problem is to think it through and start proposing solutions. Not every suggestion is going to be a home run. Some aren't even going to be singles. But by trying, over and over again, to take on the challenge head-on, you can be sure of one thing: You're moving forward.
So whether it's your own bad ideas that have you feeling anxious, or you don't know how to react when someone else makes a bad pitch, just remember: Things get accomplished when people try. And that's just it. Trying something is a risk. You might be dead-on, you might be miles off the target. But when you try, and keep trying, you're on your way to getting real results. And you know what? That's a pretty good idea.