24 Hours of YES
How many times have you ignored, flouted and thoroughly defecated on someone else’s idea? Even the most creative of us does this from time to time. More than we would like to admit.
A number of years ago, my oldest daughter visited me at work. She was six years old and was really excited to help me solve a public health challenge I was grappling with.
But like most adults, I had a To-Do list and I had to get things done and needed to keep her busy. At the time, I was the Global Commercial Head for Pfizer’s Smoking Cessation franchise and I figured I could keep her occupied by asking her:
"To come up with a new way to help people to stop smoking?”
Of course this young entrepreneur eagerly agreed. An hour had passed and I returned to my office to discover an excited child ready to pitch her big idea.
My Daughter: Here's my idea... a drink to help people stop from smoking cigarettes.
She presented a post-it note and additional sketches on my white board. And then there was a noticeable silence from me.
Me: Great idea. Thanks sweat heart.
Voice in My Head: That will never work! The pharmacokinetics wouldn’t be right, smokers would never try it and the cost of clinical studies will be cost prohibitive. What a ridiculous idea!
On our way home later that evening, we walked to my car and just as I was about to put her in her car seat the thought crossed my mind of where she got the idea of a drink from. So I asked.
Me: Hey sweet heart, where did you get the idea of a drink from?
My Daughter: Well, when we were walking to your office, I noticed people puffing on cigarettes the way people sip on a drink. And so I thought what if people could sip on a drink that was a medicine instead of sipping on a cigarette.
I nearly fell over. This six year old child had discovered a really compelling and deep insight. And sadly, I also realized something about myself. My initial reaction, because of my “expertise," was to instantly squash her idea. I immediately judged it. I never gave her idea a chance to thrive. I was very successful at instantaneously devising all of the reasons why it wouldn’t work. And furthermore, I had walked the same way to work so often and seen the very same smokers huddled outside sipping on cigarettes. Just as my six year old child had observed. But I never opened my eyes to see what she saw.