Garage sale lady and ideas

A while back a woman approached me at an event and asked if she could run something by me. I stopped to listen to what she wanted to talk about. She wanted to ask me what I thought about the idea of having a community or city-wide garage sale day. She said she had been to this type of event in other communities and thought it would be a great idea for this community.

I chatted with her about it and offered to meet with her in the future if she wanted to sit down and talk about the steps she would have to take to make it a reality. When we parted ways I really didn’t think I would see her regarding that topic again.

It happens more often that you probably think. Someone tells me of an idea they have. We talk about the idea. I offer suggestions, ask questions, play a little bit of devil’s advocate, and explain to them the tools the Chamber would be able to offer and in some cases what I personally could offer. More often than not, that person never comes back around and the idea doesn’t become a reality. I get the feeling that people think the Chamber or Jackie (to clarify, those are not one in the same) should take on every idea and make it a reality. That’s not even possible.

Given the number of ideas that we are pitched, the resources we have on hand, the size of our staff, and the number of hours in a day, it would actually be nearly, or maybe even completely impossible for us to achieve all of the ideas that are suggested to us. Not to mention that many of the ideas don’t align with our organization’s mission. That doesn’t mean we think the ideas are bad, we just have to stick to what fits our mission most closely. We do the best we can to make connections and give people direction so they can turn their idea into reality but we have to stick to our boundaries so we don’t get stretched too thin and become ineffective.

When the garage sale lady (I know her name — she just didn’t want me to put it in my column) called me several weeks later to schedule a meeting and chat more about what she would need to do to make her idea a reality, I was pleasantly surprised. We met and I realized she was very willing to take the project on herself and was open to input, suggestions, and the assistance we are able to offer. We have met a handful of times since then, and she is well into planning a city-wide garage sale event for 2017.

I think about how our community would be different if everyone who had an idea took action toward making the idea a reality instead of hoping someone else will take it on, or leaving it as just an idea. I have a lot of respect for people who have an idea and run with it. Even if it doesn’t work out, I have more respect for the person who tried and failed than the person who never gets past the idea phase. Actions speak louder than words, right?

Garage sale lady will tell you that making a new concept become a reality isn’t easy. There are a lot of unanswered questions and some frustration, but it is possible to create success from concept.

Everything started from an idea. It just took someone to take action to make it a reality. Why aren’t more people willing to turn ideas into reality? Instead of setting resolutions for this New Year, I think we should do a lot less thinking and engage in a whole lot more action. What’s the worst thing that can happen? Your idea doesn’t work out? So what? At least you tried and you can try again with the lessons learned along the way.

I know what will happen with your idea if you don’t try. Nothing. Sadly, a lot of great ideas never see beyond the skull. Garage sale lady is on to something and we should learn from her. Have an idea? Make this year the year you take action on it. Maybe it’s not a community project, maybe it’s an idea for you personally or for your family.

All successes start the same way — with action.

Jackie Krawczak is president/CEO of the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce. Her column runs bi-weekly on Thursdays. Follow Jackie on Twitter @jkrawczak.