Don’t buy ideas. Rent them.

Some ideas are so good. An idea can be good at first glance or after years of digging and testing, or both. When it looks instantly convincing, it just resonates with your experience. There are so many things that such an idea can help you see in a new light, or help you fill some old explanatory gaps. Or, it can sound absurd when you first hear it, and then later it gets under your skin. Either way, you buy it. You buy it on impulse or after years of testing. You invest time, emotions, and sometimes reputation. And once you buy it, you start paying the maintenance costs. It’s quite like buying a piece of land. You build a house on it, then furnish it, and then you start repairing it. Somewhere along this process, you find yourself emotionally attached. And that’s where similarities end. The house you can sell and buy a new one. With ideas, you can only buy new. But sometimes the previous investment doesn’t leave you with sufficient resources. And then you can’t just buy any new idea. It needs to fit the rest of your narrative.

Once you buy an idea, it can open a lot of new paths and opportunities. But it can also obscure your vision and preclude other opportunities. One thing you learn can sometimes be the biggest obstacle to learning something else, potentially more valuable.

Instead of buying ideas, wouldn’t it be better just to rent them? But not like renting a house, more like renting a car. With that car you can go somewhere, stay there, or go further, or elsewhere, or – if it is not good for a particular road or destination – come back and rent another car.

Do you like the idea of renting, instead of buying ideas? If yes, don’t buy it.

If you are not tired of metaphors by now, here’s another one. I often present my ideas as glasses. Not lenses but glasses. First, they should be comfortable. They should fit our head, nose and ears. Not too tight, so that we can easily take them out. Not too loose, so that we don’t drop them when shaken. Second, when we put on new glasses, we don’t just put on new lenses, but also new frames. Being aware of that is being aware of limitations, and of the fact that there are hidden choices. It would also help to realise when it’s time to try on a new pair of glasses.