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How Do You Unearth Your BIG Idea?

Thursday, September 01, 2022 9:04 AM | Erica Holthausen

If you want to be regarded as a leading expert in your field, you need to have a BIG idea — a bold, insightful, and galvanizing idea — upon which to build your career and reputation.

Five questions to ask to discover your BIG idea.

Some people seem to be born knowing their BIG idea. But for most of us, unearthing, recognizing, and embracing our BIG idea takes time and focused effort. If you’re not sure where to start, or if you’re in the midst of the process, consider these five questions:

1. What is something you see happening in your field that makes you want to grab a bullhorn and rant and rave?

2. What are the underlying assumptions in your field? Are they really true? How do you know?

3. Who are the leaders in your field? Whom do you admire? Who is overrated? Why?

4. What experiences have you had that others in your field have not? How do they shape your view of the work you do?

5. What is important to YOU about the work you do? How does your work deliver value to your clients? 

A simple exercise to help you develop your BIG idea.

​Developing your BIG idea requires you to take some time for thoughtful reflection and deep work. But you can get started now, with a simple 10-minute freewriting exercise:

1. Grab a pen and a piece of paper. Choose the question above that resonates with you most and write it at the top of the page.

2. Walk away from your computer and phone, and find a quiet place to work without interruption.

3. Set a timer for 10 minutes and answer the question at the top of the page as quickly as possible. Don’t edit yourself, and don’t stop writing. If you get stuck, write, “What I’m trying to say is . . .” and keep going. Even if it’s awful, keep writing as fast as you can.

4. When the timer goes off, you can stop writing. Of course, if you’re in the flow, I recommend that you take advantage of that flow state and keep writing!

5. Read what you wrote aloud and circle those insights that resonate with you. You can use those as prompts for future freewriting exercises.

Your BIG idea has the power to shape your corner of the world. It may start as just a spark of an idea based on experience or instinct, but that’s all you need. You’ll develop your idea further as you explore it. And one of the beautiful things about a BIG idea is that you will always be learning and deepening your understanding of your topic.

Take some time to develop your BIG idea, and then share it. But don’t wait too long. You’ll never know everything there is to know about your BIG idea, so take us on that journey of discovery with you. The more you share your thoughts on this topic, the more your audience will see you as someone who has ideas worth sharing.

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Erica Holthausen is the founder of Catchline Communications and a strategic thought partner to consultants who wish to build their authority and increase their visibility by publishing articles in industry trade journals and business magazines like Inc., Entrepreneur, and Insider. To learn how to raise your profile, register for Pitched to Published, a free monthly Q+A focused on writing, pitching, and publishing articles.

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