Lisa O'Neill

Lisa O'Neill

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Ideas are nothing until they are captured and shared. Until they are explored and explained.

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The definition of an idea is a formulated thought or opinion. In her best-selling book, Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert says that people don’t have ideas, that ideas have people. I love the idea of this. She explains using the metaphor of a butterfly. An idea butterfly lands on someone’s shoulder. If that person activates that idea – if they do something with it, it is theirs. If they don’t, the idea moves on and lands on someone else. For me, this is a wonderful way to explain how many ideas are shared by many people. Not to say that there are a limited number of ideas in the world but that it is possible for many people to think the same thoughts.

“Ideas have no material body, but they do have consciousness, and they most certainly have will. Ideas are driven by a single impulse: to be made manifest. And the only way an idea can be made manifest in our world is through collaboration with a human partner. Ideas spend eternity swirling around us, searching for available and willing human partners.”  – Elizabeth Gilbert

I want to bust a myth you have all bought into. “It’s NOT the thought that counts! It’s what you DO with that thought that really matters. Ideas are nothing until they are captured and shared. Until they are explored and explained.

At Thought Leaders Business School, we teach you to take the ideas in your head and make the most of them, commercially.
It’s about building a bank of ideas. About thinking once and delivering often.

I remember how intimidated I was when I was first introduced to the concept of “Pink Sheets”. A Pink Sheet is best described as a one-page snapshot that explains an idea. For me, Pink Sheets started a form that I could fill in to check if I could explain my idea. It helped me to make my thinking more ‘thorough’.

Pink Sheets push you to turn your idea into a sentence that makes it memorable. We call this the ‘A statement’ – a declarative point. To describe it using a metaphor, to give an example in a story, prove it with a case study or statistic and even show it visually in a model.

At first, Pink Sheets seem hard. There is always an internal pressure to make them perfect. A fear of our thinking being judged. Of it not being good enough. All this is very normal. Fear, self-judgement, and not feeling good enough are very common symptoms of being human!

The other challenge is the challenge of doing something new. Pink Sheets force you into new ways of thinking – of expanding your idea out of your comfort zone and into a space that makes your thinking relevant for more people. It takes a flat idea and makes it five-dimensional. It creates the context (1.Model), delivers content (2. Metaphor), explains the concept (3. Declarative Point – called an ‘A’ Statement) and makes it absorbable to both the left (4.Case Study) and right (5.Story) sides of the brain!

It all seems like a lot of work. And it is! But it is the best kind of work. Work that you love. Imagine being offered the opportunity to work on your ideas. To stretch your thinking into something commercial. To make money from all the stuff that you have learnt, experienced, and now know.

Pink sheets are about extending your thinking. Rather than having hundreds of notebooks stuffed with undercooked ideas, Pink Sheets give you a structure to download, to capture, and to store your ideas in a way that you can find them and use them!

We encourage you to create a set of folders – areas that you have expertise, experience, knowledge, or interest in. A set of containers that you can fill with your thinking, your perspective, and your ideas. There are no limits to these folders and you may have some that appear to have no relationship to each other.

What are 5 topics that you could fill with ideas?
Five areas that you know a lot about? Team Building? Project Management? Diversity? High Performance?
The list is literally endless. And you don’t have to stop at five! But it’s a great number to start with. To begin with, anything from three to seven will do.

Then, come the ideas. The first step is to jot them down. To make a list. Imagine a list of everything you know! Folder by folder, write your list. Keep the idea tight. Think of them as bumper stickers. Some of you will be off and running – some will not know where to start! The first challenge is that ‘we often do not know what we know ‘ and the second truth is that ‘we do not understand the value of our ideas’. We assume that “everyone knows what I know.”

The second step is to develop them.
To stretch them. To go up to explain the context: what is this really about?  You then need to get down into the details: what are the examples, the stories, or the proof of your hypothesis?

The more ideas you capture, the more you will generate. Pink Sheets start off as a form that you need to fill in – each section of the sheet prompts you to think harder. To go further. The good news is that Pink Sheets get easier. They become fun and change the way you think. Eventually, you get so good that you no longer have to fill in any forms! Your ideas start to form with more dimension. It becomes impossible to think about something without coming up with a metaphor. It’s like not eating the last biscuit – you just can’t not! (See what I did there!)

And then, comes the gold. Pink sheets turn into gold when you see the impact your ideas can have. When you are training and people understand what you are teaching. When you are facilitating and people think differently. When you are speaking and rooms light up.
When you are writing a book and find all of your thinking already catalogued and ready to be put out into the world.

What are you waiting for? Pink Sheet something!

For more info, you can find Pink Sheets here.


Lisa O’Neill

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