Why Your Idea Needs Landing Gear


Some smart guy that I know once said that everyone knows how to build a plane, but not everyone knows how to build landing gear.

If you haven’t figured out what that means (and I didn’t until I was told what it was about), it’s about project management. Everyone knows how to start and idea and let it take flight. Good job, you have the engine, the wings and the fuselage by then. Most people also know how to take their idea and make it look great. That’s the in-flight entertainment and the nice seats, and of course, the great airplane food. But it’s the ending that sets everyone on the edge. You know, when you have to build the landing gear to ensure that your idea makes it to the ground, the world, in one piece. If not, then why bother starting?

If you’re one of those people who’s about to finish but hasn’t from procrastination/anxiety/panic, then you’re in luck, because I’m going to talk about it today. Because one of the best places to learn how to finish projects and ideas is when you’re in school. Well, if you intend pass, that is. So right now, I’ve got plenty to say about the topic of finishing.

The last 10% is always the hardest. The same wise man told me that one. The end is always underrated. The end of the race is a pain, the end of the job is a pain, the end of ________ is a pain too. That’s when you have to get down to the stuff you postponed. The spelcheking (I didn’t use it either), the formatting, the tiring bits that are not so fun in life. What are you going to do then? Crash the plane? Because many do that there and then. They abort flight, and the dream is over.

To explain this, I’ll use someone I know. A friend whom I’ll call Edmund. He had a school project/course of designing a board game. It took two years, and the process was kind of what I described. The first 50% was great, the next 40% was not so great, and the last 10? Well, imagine writing one thousand lines a day. It wasn’t that bad, but it was almost. It was tedious. Very tedious. I would know. I had to help him.

All throughout this process, Edmund complained lots. Procrastinated. Stuff like that. But he had an advantage. He knew that the last 10% was going to be more difficult than the first 90 altogether. Edmund already knew it was coming, and he mentally prepared himself for it, so when the landing started, his plane did not blow up. It landed properly and steadily. And he pushed through to it.

Once you’re done, it feels great. Let’s face it, people. Work feels great. Sure, people need to rest, but getting a job doe sure feels great (another thing you learn in school). And when you’ve spent tons of time, money, and energy into your brainchild, crashing at 90% is not going to feel good. In fact, you’ll probably feel like more of a bum than ever before, because there were probably some (at least one) person who was excited for your idea and want to see it finished, so why disappoint them? Don’t.

That’s about how we figured out how to get Edmund to finish it. Because we’d all have been disappointed if he didn’t. Whether finishing meant self-publishing his board game, or getting a company to do it, he was going to have to finish it if he didn’t want a trail of disappointed people.

Get lots of friends and family to support you. Yes, I know. Doing any project is a pain in the butt sometimes, and that’s why you have people to support you. Family. Friends. They get behind you to help you realise ideas and dreams. And, like related to the above, it does motivate you not to disappoint them. So don’t.

Back to my friend Edmund. He certainly didn’t disappoint. He completed yet another prototype before taking it to Gen Con Indy just last month, the self proclaimed “Best Four Days In Gaming”. With 61,000 people attending, the slogan certainly wasn’t misleading. There, he approached several game designers and publishers, who liked his idea. Now, he’s sent a prototype off to one of them, who is interested in the game and may publish it.

Now that’s determination. Getting an idea from the deep recesses of your head onto paper, computer, print, mail, and then into a publisher’s hand (or mailbox). That’s not the whole way yet, but in terms of project, that’s nearly the end of the road for Edmund. He pushed himself all the way, and now, if the publisher wants it, they will push it with him. And that’s just one example of several people I know who’ve pushed their dreams all the way there.

However, sadly, still many others crash their planes instead of building landing gear. So don’t be one of them. Many ideas take flight. Most don’t land properly. So go build your landing gear. Finish your dream. You won’t regret it.

Landing At Zurich International Airport” by kuhnmi [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons.

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