Why sharing your ideas could backfire

Two reasons why you should resist the temptation of sharing your ideas with others (and no, it's not because they might steal it!)

Concept for not sharing ideas | Woman gesturing shhhh

As humans we love sharing our ideas, thoughts and issues with our friends and loved ones. We just love to reflect, debate, deliberate. So, when an inspiring thought comes to me, I am, like most people, tempted to share it with someone right away—the excitement is too much to contain. And sharing helps me articulate what’s going on in my mind—it gives my thoughts a definite shape.

And yet, I once shared an inspiring idea I had with a few former colleagues and in response heard a muffled laughter and a mocking tone. Have you too felt excited about some brilliant idea and felt on top of the world, till you shared it with someone and they punctured all your enthusiasm? I bet you have!

Over the years, I have learned that sharing ideas right away is not always a great idea, especially when the inspiration has come from within. And no, it’s not because you fear that others might steal your idea.

There are two key reasons why you should wait before you share an inspiring idea with someone.

Two reasons why sharing ideas prematurely backfires

1. Shifts your focus

Telling others, I have noticed, shifts my focus on to other and what they think about my idea. Depending on whom I tell, I have faced varied reactions to my ideas—encouragement, polite disbelief, extreme cynicism, sometimes even ridicule. And this is where I lose the plot. The moment I share, my ego gets involved in trying to convince the other person about the validity of my thoughts. Soon, doubts begin to creep in, even as the listener’s perspectives are projected onto mine and I am not sure of my own idea anymore.

2. Dissipates energy

Another disadvantage of sharing an idea too early is energy dissipation. A new idea is always accompanied by a surge of energy. I have learned that this energy needs to be preserved and utilised to cook the idea for a while before serving it to the world. By letting it out too early, the energy gets scattered, even if the listener is encouraging. To sustain the effervescence of a new idea, you need to keep it bottled up until you develop deep and abiding conviction in it.

Treat your idea like a baby

A new inspiring thought or idea is akin to a newborn baby—it is tremendously vulnerable and requires utmost care and attention. A newborn needs to be protected, not just from wicked people but from well-wishers too. Likewise, an idea needs to be protected from others, until it has the strength to withstand judgment, opposition and criticism.

Now you know why the wise ones advise us to keep quiet and maintain secrecy about our personal goals and aspirations, especially in the beginning. Now, when a new idea germinates in my consciousness, I resist the temptation of immediately announcing it to the world even as the wiser part of me whispers in my ears: “Keep your mouth shut.”

This article originally appeared in the January 2014 issue of Complete Wellbeing magazine.

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Manoj Khatri
Manoj Khatri is a highly experienced wellbeing consultant. He is also a writer-editor and has written on topics ranging from strategic marketing and business management to art, culture and even philosophy. His more than 1250 published stories—articles, interviews, full-length features—have appeared in some of the leading newspapers and magazines of India. A certified cognitive behavioural therapist, he works as a personal counsellor too. He is the author of What a thought!, a critically acclaimed self-improvement book based on powerful ideas of some of the greatest thought leaders. Manoj runs Complete Wellbeing and believes that "peace begins with me".

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