TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

Too many ideas lead us to lack of focus and too many successful examples leave us rather frustrated (and/or envious!)

"Ideas Worth Spreading"
But how many good ideas are 'enough' to make you say I'm overloaded or to leave you in 'the paradox of choice' (follow Barry Schwartz' talk!)? While your enthusiasm is getting divided into a lot of diverse ideas and you are inspired by too many things at the same time, you may not want to leave any of those undone, untasted or untested. As a result nothing is getting done and you lose focus. And finally not getting things done is leaving you frustrated.

Also you are constantly in the middle of listening to amazing things, learning about other people's great ideas kicking off, getting done, making empires etc. You are left asking yourself 'what's wrong with me?' while feeling a bit envious!
As Alain de Botton said in his talk "...Never before have expectations been so high about what human beings can achieve with their lifespan. We're told, from many sources, that anyone can achieve anything. We've done away with the caste system... We're all basically equal. There are no strictly defined kind of hierarchies.
There is one really big problem with this, and that problem is envy....".

So the point is, should or shouldn't we stop pursuing 'new ideas' at some point? Does the overflow of new ideas and news of great accomplishments disturb us in what we are doing? Or are the continuous flow of ideas and news good sources of inspiration and should the flow be continuous?

Share:
  • Nov 27 2011: At some point, many of the ideas began to resemble each other in ways. Feedback helps refine ideas, but I think there is a problem when one believes their ideas are unique or more important than others, or the message is misinterpreted.

    Too many ideas can confuse the mind, because some will obviously contradict one another and leave an individual with less confirmation regarding their own views of what might be best. While speculation is a good thing, enough of it is bound to drive anyone to a point where they cannot remain grounded no matter how they try to rationalize their wondering.

    It is natural to feel envious, but this should be turned into positive aspirations, which is not always so easy to do. I don't think its a good idea to spread a message that "anyone can achieve anything". That message defies common sense. It is a good motivator, but can easily fuel delusion (false hope).
  • thumb
    Nov 25 2011: Each of us needs to learn how to allocate our time and effort between consuming information and using that information actively in our projects.Many people develop a focus area they choose to explore more seriously than others and to work in that area. How much time to spend consuming information directly related to ones focus, how much time to spend consuming unrelated information, how much time to spend in action related to ones focus, and how much time to spend in unrelated action are important questions with different answers for different people and at different times.Each of us can learn to exercise judgment in what and how much we read or listen to from among all the books, lectures, internet sources, and people we come across so that we have ample time to involve ourselves in productive action..
  • Nov 26 2011: I understand exactly. I am currently looking for a career change and am overwhelmed by all the wonderful, creative, exciting possibilities out there and I want to try them all! And, indeed seeing other's accomplishments makes me feel sad that I do not leave anything remarkable or leave the world a (slightly) better place.
    But the problem lies with me. Long may the ideas flow!
  • Nov 26 2011: A good idea is to have many ideas; since few ideas are good opportunities.

    When it comes about ideas worth spreading in Ted, it is both; giving & taking ideas.

    It is almost equal to not that people get frustrated of many ideas compared to having one.At exceptional level it is true, but you need to have the idea of differentiating good ones too.
  • thumb
    Nov 26 2011: Dear Mohammad,
    Personally, I will never stop pursuing new ideas until I take my last breath on this earth school:>) The news of great accomplishments by so many people in our world inspires and motivates me daily, and I think/feel that the continuous flow of ideas is wonderful for all of us.

    I observe that people sometimes get frustrated and overwhelmed with so many things that could be done in our world to create a more peaceful global life experience. Each one of us, as individuals, can evaluate what talents, skills, knowledge, time committment, financial committment, etc. we can contribute, that works best for ourselves, other people, and our environment. We are all in different stages of our lives, and many things change for us regarding our interests at any given time. In my perception, there is no such thing as too much knowledge, and in each and every moment, we can decide as individuals how to use the knowledge we have. We can focus on one cause or issue that we feel is relevant and can realistically contribute something to. What we focus on expands. Can you imagine what our world could be if everyone spent some time focusing and contributing to causes that were important to the individual and to the whole?
  • thumb
    Nov 26 2011: I feel not everyone is jumping on whatever ideas s/he comes across. Everyone picks and chooses.

    While in reality, living with people without curiosity (lack of curiosity doesn't bring any idea) by at large , I am not in favor killing / blocking any idea.

    However here in TED , the word WORTH is already a filter...........
    How much is too much ?
    Who decides it's too much ?
  • thumb
    Nov 26 2011: Seems true Mohamed,
    -and I must admit I have experienced it myself-

    But to me, there seems no such thing as too much knowledge...
    And I'm happy to know that other people will execute a lot of those ideas I'm not able to pursue.
  • Nov 25 2011: "Too many....?" We have a choice about what to focus on and how many of each thing to pay attention to. It is stimulating in various ways and perhaps is one of the causes of creativity that is valuable to us and to others.
    • thumb
      Nov 26 2011: But all the ideas does not together. So we pay attention to all Ideas whether we want or not. We just want to make them.That's the tendency of humans to take everything as a input.
      • Nov 26 2011: We humans are constantly selective. We live within infinity. We select from that. We may or may not be aware that we are selecting, but we are. We can program or re-program ourselves to systematically select according to our own values, e.g., you can select positive people to be your friends. You can select ideas pretty scenery to focus on or you can stare a trashpiles. You can select interesting ideas from science or technology or art or religion. It's a free world. Select what to focus on according to your true values. POWER TO THE POSITIVE!
    • thumb
      Nov 26 2011: @Rhona Pavis:
      Yes "too many...", at some point too many ideas throw us into the 'paradox of choice'. Personally I constantly feel interested about almost all good ideas :p I immediately start dreaming of a new project, start thinking about possible new people to help me doing that etc. These thoughts have a dual effect. It makes me inspired and enthusiastic about pursuing something new, again, since that very idea may not be very compatible with my expertise or typical interest I give up the thoughts and it leave a lasting bad feeling of 'giving up'.
      • Nov 26 2011: Sorry that you experience a "lasting bad feeling of 'giving up.'" Wish you were not so demanding of yourself. What you do.....as long as it is positive.....is enough. We contemporaries of yours are grateful for each and every positive thing you do. Perhaps it would be helpful to breathe deeply, breathe slowly, relax and enjoy this day. It might be useful to you to do that when your are feeling badly. It seems irrational to feel badly just because you can't do everything. No one can. Do what you do and just remain within the positive realm of action. Best wishes.
  • thumb
    Dec 1 2011: I have a friend who hosted an event called the Idea Adoption Agency. It was an open invitation for people with ideas that they never followed-through on to share those ideas with people who might want to take them and run with them. I was unable to attend as this was in Montreal and I'm in New York, but I thought it was a great way for people to dust off old ideas and see them get some love. Of course, you have to be able to let go of your sense of "ownership" of those ideas, which can be hard to do. But if you have a great idea that you think deserves the chance to come to fruition and you just aren't able to get it there yourself, I think allowing someone to "adopt" it is a great solution.
  • Dec 1 2011: Ideas has shaped our culture as a species...
    For better or for worst, we need them.

    There has to be order, if one can gain balance
    and recognize ideas that resonates with them, but most importantly
    now exactly what they want in life , they
    will be fascinated by the power it possess.

    I think the answer to your question is organization and TRUE understanding of ones self... :-)
  • thumb
    Nov 29 2011: I am the poster child for 'lack of focus', but I'm happy because I don't get as much satisfaction from 'achievement' as from exploration. For years I prioritized 'making a living' (i.e. doing things bosses and customers wanted me to do) and squeezed in some time for 'exploring' in the remaining time. (I'm now retired.) Frankly I regret, as do most folks, not having tried (and perhaps failed) at more things when I was young -- though I did plenty of that, too. But when one has family, one puts 'making a living', having goals, being 'successful', etc. ahead of what one wants.... or at least I did.

    As for feeling envious, I have never had much envy. If someone was able to do something I couldn't, I just tried to emulate them and see if I could do that too. If I couldn't I didn't let it bother me. I learned humility early, and seldom fell prey to the idea that 'whatever the mind can conceive, you can achieve.' I saw too many examples of folks 'falling into' success -- and then discovering they'd been inveigled into a trap.

    Maybe I'm nuts, but I think that Buddhism has a lot to say about being happy. If not taken to an extreme, the idea that 'the extinction of desire leads to the extinction of pain' is true. (My appetites for food and women would disqualify me from any standard of Buddhism, but I'm eclectic....). Shrugging your shoulders and dismissing 'success' as a meaningless term is a realistic alternative to having a socially sanctioned 'purpose in life'. I kinda like Winston Churchill's statement that "Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm." For me (since I don't care much about what others expect of me) I rather enjoy charting my own (solo) course and measuring my life in terms of what I wanted to do -- rather than against other folks.
  • thumb
    Nov 29 2011: (while on lunch break) This is an excellent question. I think it is possible to strike a balance between infinite ideas, and the ideas we choose to follow up on. There are 7,000,000,000 people all with millions of ideas. Perhaps, even without people there would still be ideas.
  • thumb
    Nov 29 2011: I believe that we each choose the ideas that resonate with us as individuals. By putting ideas and potential solutions out into cyberspace more people can find one that they can relate to. It is all good.
  • thumb
    Nov 29 2011: To me not all ideas are for my personal action, though I "liked" it.
    Generating ideas are more like addiction and sometimes compulsion, that we can not prevent (even if we want).
    I think, we all (who have that "addiction") purify/filter different ideas, that we ourselves generate or imbibe in different forms and forums (as in this one) to make a "actionable" plan of work that suits the bigger picture.
    That "bigger picture" depends on our "education" and upbringing. Someone might prefer to make this world a "better" place while many others may like to use this word to offer him/her a better place.

    In short, we all generate "ideas" depending on our ability, education and grooming. Some ideas are not "worth spreading" or can not even be described as "ideas" (to others). And there is no way out to constantly generating "ideas"- rejecting most, accepting few and working on fewer (lot fewer).
  • Comment deleted

    • thumb
      Nov 29 2011: Don, MIchael Sandel is a person i deeply admire most especially for his ability to conduct a really constructive debate in large groups of people. Nice link. Thanks.
  • thumb
    Nov 27 2011: There is NO SUCH THING as to "TOO MANY IDEAS..." as they say in layman's terms there is always room for improvement. How to achieve improvement is the democracy. A person improving a lot than the others is an intimidating situation. that is why improvements should be done socially too... In fact great improvements are done collaboratively.

    However, these could only happen if YOU will stop getting envious and start PARTICIPATING.
  • Nov 26 2011: envy is not a problem worth mentioning because it is overridden by the need to acquire the basic necessities in life and the hope to live in a safe world.
    Though I understand your point, I think it is seriously flawed. The Renaissance was a time of many ideas too, and it seemed humanity gained a great deal from that period of time. Now we are in a state of constant renaissance and with the digitization and virtualization of literally anything growing more and more possible, we are seeing more people living their lives in virtual environments wherein all ego needs are satisfied.
    This is not an excuse and should not be considered a viable complaint against TED. I actually find myself wondering if you are part of an obtrusive regime somewhere. Ideas make the world grow and its inhabitants evolve. Little children who grow up playing with digital devices are going to represent a new paradigm in consciousness as they learn the language of computers as quickly as they do human languages...they will build a world unlike any we have seen before it. But powerful, pathological people will do everything they can to fight it. The world is changing though...you will see...ideas are required to save us from the frightful oppression of out-dated economic mechanisms and governments, and brilliant people will not stop creating and inspiring others to create.
    • thumb
      Nov 26 2011: I understand.
      Here the issue of 'stopping the flow of ideas at some point in life' is more of a personal necessity or not. Obviously the global flow of ideas worth spreading must continue. To be clear, this debate is NOT a complaint against the mission of TED's Ideas Worth Spreading.

      But I think sometimes we need to pause all our connections and the flows of ideas, to keep our head concentrated to the works of ideas-in-action that already we have. Otherwise it disturbs, makes us feel anxious, impatience, tends to lead us getting things done in a short-cut way and may also lead us to the tendency of quick show-off.
      • thumb
        Nov 26 2011: I guess what I am curious about is how people are applying the knowledge they learn at a TED event. Do they take those ideas and start making the world a better place or does the brochure go in a drawer next to the bed and people simply looking forward to the next TED event but never apply the ideas?
  • thumb
    Nov 26 2011: If someone get envious with other's success it's his/her problem who gets envious, it can't be a reason of not sharing success stories......we should encourgea sharing success stories as much as possible to reinforce positivity.
  • thumb
    Nov 26 2011: Ideas and Inspirations are always around us but we pick and want to implement those Ideas which are seems simple and have less hard work. Because our mind controls the whole body and Our brain never wants to give any kind of trouble to any part of the body.
    So i mean that Ideas are always there for everyone but if someone want to take that then one must also see the hard work behind that Ideas and Inspirations. I like Tendulkar(a great Indian cricket player) and if my heart said that..." Hey let's play a cricket dude." then i know that my mind will reply " Hey stupid!! be in your limit and you can't do that much of hard work " .
    So still I must say that Ideas and Inspirations are very necessary. doesn't matter whether they come alone or in bundle .