Achieving the Extraordinary

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Scott Belsky Solves the Riddle of ‘Making Ideas Happen’


Author, investor, and entrepreneur Scott Belsky has a lifelong mission that he shares with the online portfolio platform Behance, which he founded in 2006: “To empower the creative world to make ideas happen.” To realize this, he had to unpack one specific question: “How do some people and teams defy the odds and make ideas happen?” On the Main Stage yesterday morning, Belsky shared his findings with Convening Leaders attendees.

Belsky began with a disclaimer that the majority of people’s ideas never come to fruition. Too often, they stagnate or aren’t shared, and then fall by the wayside. They are forgotten, lost, outdone, or put on the backburner. And creative-minded individuals battle certain pitfalls, including lack of organization, accountability, and experienced leadership. To overcome these, we have to break the pattern of continuously creating new ideas in order to push one idea to completion.

In addition to the idea itself, there are three overarching components that best capitalize on our creativity. When we work on a communal level, we share ideas and foster competition to push ourselves and drive ideas to completion. Collectively, we assume accountability and better resist apathy.

We have to invest in organization to shape behaviors that set us up to succeed. Instead of operating on a reactive basis, we need to force ourselves to disconnect in favor of deliberate downtime. Employing workflow visualization tactics, such as a Kanban board, can help prioritize how your team spends their time and energy. Groups should measure the value of their work and meetings in actionable to-do’s. If something isn’t generating ROI or yielding accountability, or is halting productivity, remove it. This eliminates bottlenecks and prevents duplication.

Leadership is the third crucial component. As a leader, you should ask, listen, then talk, rather than talk first, convince, or demand. This makes room for ownership and innovation, and establishes respect. Challenge the consensus — even if it means being the one to ask the annoying questions that everyone is thinking — but don’t let it become a burden.

Belsky’s discoveries transcend our professional and personal lives, and demand us to be better. “Nothing extraordinary is ever achieved through ordinary means,” he said. In fact, the best ideas are bred out of doubt leveraged as confidence. “If everyone thinks you’re crazy, you’re either crazy or you’re really on to something.”


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