Daily Herald April 27, 1991
It's one thing to have an idea. It's quite another to get someone else to accept it. Ideas are like seeds. Ideas represent potential things that can happen, actions that might take place. Often, we can act on our own ideas independently. But more often, someone else must also accept our idea before it can be acted upon fully. For this to happen they must be sold on the idea.
Selling an idea is like growing a garden. Some seeds may never grow if they are planted too deep. Either they won't get enough moisture, or they won't have enough energy to get their shoots up into the sunlight. Forcing your ideas on someone else is like stamping a seed too far down into the soil. Ideas need to be placed on fertile soil, and firmly, gently, and often tactfully, pressed into the ground. Don't scatter them wildly. But, don't pound them into people.
Ideas, like seeds, don't germinate right away. Being impatient with someone, almost guarantees they won't respond to your ideas. Seeds need warmth and moisture. Ideas need to be nurtured to develop. If you act in a warm, considerate way to someone, you increase the chances they'll allow your idea to develop within themselves. Only when a seed absorbs moisture and swells, is it ready to begin to sprout. Only when the idea has been absorbed and has grown within the other person, will it truly germinate.
When a sprout first breaks above the soil, it is quite vulnerable, as many people find out when a dog or a child gets loose in the garden. It needs energy from the sun, moisture and nutrients from the soil. But, it also needs to be left alone for a while. It's dangerous to weed a garden before these initial sprouts build up strength and root systems.
When someone reacts to your ideas, don't rush in to criticize, correct or take over. Provide support, but from a distance. Provide encouragement, acknowledging that the idea is now theirs, not yours. Leave them alone. The more you interfere, the more likely you'll kill that idea within them.
When others are developing an idea, we may become impatient. We want them to finish with the idea, and do something about it, now. But jumping to conclusions with a half-developed idea can lead to disaster. Just as a plant must mature before it's harvested, people need to wrestle with and fully develop their ideas. Although you may intend to help, jumping in with your criticism will likely be seen as interference. It may lead the person to become argumentative and defensive, or lose confidence and interest in their idea.
Only when it's allowed to mature, does a seed eventually produce seeds of its own, and gives the gardener a multi-fold return on the investment. Only when you allow people to fully develop and own their ideas, will they develop them to their fullest. You may have planted the seed of an idea with someone, but only if you recognize, learn and practice good gardening habits are you likely to see a bumper crop.