We've all had our share of wonderful ideas (or at least we think so). It's quite astonishing to see your ideas made real years later by a company. I recently had this experience while reading a Wired Blog Network post by Dave Demerjian.
It turns out that Super Smoker is actively marketing a smokeless cigarette. The "electronic cigarette delivers nicotine through tobacco-flavored vapor without the annoying smoke of a true cigarette, which means "this device can't be placed under the smoking prohibition" that bars smoking on flights". When I originally envisioned this product, it was going to be loaded with nutrients and vitamins, making it a healthy cigarette alternative. In addition the nicotine levels could be lowered over time, or replaced with a non-addictive stimulant.
So what? I'm convinced that ideas have very little value and their implementation has ALL the value. Ideas are easy, ideas are cheap. Implementing an idea takes effort, coordination, planning, and vision. Great ideas appear to be incredibly valuable when there's an amazing pipeline that turns them into reality. Just look at the super CEOs of the mega corporations, their ideas sound brilliant when you're holding a new Kindle or playing with a Netbook or Apple MacBook. But we forget that these aren't ideas we're holding, these are the results of thousands of hours of engineering, testing, and hard work.
When we come up with ideas, we have to have the energy to convince others to help make them into products, to help make them real. It's the act of going from the vague blueprints of our imagination, our fantasies, into a communicable or real product that gives an idea it's value. This takes a great abundance of energy, of enthusiasm. I can't help but think about Apple when it comes to this union of ideas and energy. While web articles & blog posts about Steve Jobs' are dominated by his recent six month leave of absence from day to day activities, I like to focus on all that the company has accomplished. We are all witnesses to the compelling evidence of what happens when Steves' (don't forget Woz) brilliant ideas are matched to a wide band energy pipeline, now thirty five thousand+ Apple employees.
My suggestion, if you have a great idea: Don't abandon it because it's too hard. Dig deep and find the energy to convince others of your vision. Make it real, so we can all enjoy it!