What Do You Do With an Idea?

Commit to paying more attention to your ideas no matter how big or small they are.


Reading my son a popular children’s book, What Do You Do with an Idea? by Kobi Yamada, has me reflecting on a recent idea of my own. Kobi’s main character struggles with action around ideas. I can relate to the character in the story. I don’t think much of most of my ideas. I typically don’t know what to do with them, so I tend to push them to the side. My thoughts of what others might think or say usually keep me from even sharing them. The character shares his idea and others put it down, make fun of it and tell him it would never become anything yet something changes he makes the choice to pay attention to it and his idea grows into something awesome.

Two weeks ago my mentor, colleague, and friend, Tony Borash and I were discussing a few engagements to support our upcoming learning opportunities within the Virginia Is For Learners Innovation Network. He was planning a series of “learning walks” exploring common language across two school divisions. I too was planning a similar learning walk experience utilizing the 5Cs. That’s when it happened. An idea was born and I shared it.  “What if I could come to Virginia and learn alongside you?” Without hesitation, Tony replied, “YES, that would be awesome.” There is a great feeling that happens when someone that you respect and trust are excited about your idea.

Like the character in the story, once I shared my idea I felt empowered. I was proud of it and together we immediately began to pay even more attention to it. We were locked in. We began to first plan the crazy logistics. I booked a flight from Charleston to Richmond. Planned to sleep on Tony’s futon. Booked a rental car for the six-hour drive back to Charleston after our learning walks. Remember some ideas ARE crazy, they require us to think differently and take risks.

My idea started to open all kinds of learning for us even before I was in Virginia. Tony shared a few resources he developed to support the learning walk experience. Our conversations generated questions and challenged each others thinking around possible protocols to help drive the participant’s “learning walk” experience. Once the idea is shared, the character can’t imagine his life without it. There is a point in which his idea changes right before his eyes. It is no longer just an idea. It is something bigger, something that is a part of everything.


Once I landed in Virginia my idea began to change. It was becoming real. I was riding with Tony. We reflected on a webinar experience and made adjustments to our protocols. Five Virginia school divisions from the #VAis4learners network came together, walked 4 schools across two separate divisions. Participants explored learning, followed their wonders and chased innovation. The learning walks were a success. Tony and I were able to facilitate powerful conversations, challenge thinking and inspire maybe a few new IDEAS!

An idea to collaborate with Tony on the learning walk experience ended up being a learning opportunity with far-reaching implications. We need to pay more attention to our own ideas.  Commit to sharing more of our ideas and listen to other ideas no matter how crazy or different. Ideas can create opportunities to collaborate, communicate, create and innovate. Or like the character in the story says….change the world.

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