Are You Inspired or Insane? Why It's so Difficult for Even Smart People to Avoid Stupid Decisions


An entrepreneur, inventor or innovator must have the courage of their convictions, yet not all convictions are worth being courageous about. How can you tell the difference?

I spoke with a group in Atlanta called CEO Netweavers. They are a great group and we had a lively discussion about decision-making and why it is so difficult for even smart people to avoid stupid decisions. When speaking about entrepreneurs we admitted that sometimes very successful inventors and innovators are seen as, well, a little nuts by others. How does one know if you are pursuing a viable goal or just deluding yourself?

Here’s my answer, and a quick self test the group asked if I could develop to help them assess their own ideas. 

My answer in the moment: When Billy Graham tells us that he hears God, we believe he is inspired. When someone we don’t know tells us the same thing, we might think they are psychotic. An entrepreneur, inventor or innovator must have the courage of their conviction but not all convictions are worth being courageous about.

Some questions to help you:

  1. Can I tell a potential buyer/customer what value I offer in less than 30 seconds?
  2. Is there a market need for my product or service?
  3. Do I know who the buyers are?
  4. Do I know how to get to the buyers?
  5. Do I have great passion for the idea that my product or service will be used and enjoyed by others?
  6. Do I have money in the bank to meet my living expenses for a period of time that ensures I will not feel desperate? This is your number, no one elses.
  7. Do I listen to feedback from everyone or no one?
  8. Do I quickly rebound from rejection?
  9. Do I do things quickly? That is, I act on my ideas immediately not in 12 months.
  10. Does fear of rejection stop me in my tracks?

If you just asked yourself these questions and wrote down your answers, you are most certainly not nuts. You are likely trying to ascertain if your idea is one you should pursue in a “bet the farm” way or if it is a hobby. Hobbies are great, it’s just that most of us don’t earn a living by pursuing them—unless we turn it into a profession.

 Contributed by Constance Dierickx

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