Ideas are Useless, Unless…

“Nothing will work unless you do” -Maya Angelou


As a student in mechanical engineering school you spend most of your time learning about failure. How things fail, why they fail, when they will fail, and of course your exam grades. We are trained to think about failure because frankly making sure designs don’t fail ensures everyone is always safe. It gets to a point where every idea yourself or others have is picked apart with ways it will fail. This is great for making sure designs work, but far too many big ideas can be stifled in the brainstorming stage due to fear of failure.

Here is my proposal: from now on whenever thinking or discussing any ideas for any project use the word unless. As examples:

  • This will never work unless
  • That isn’t going to break unless
  • We can’t do that unless

The word unless turns a negative into a positive and it could help you jumpstart a game changing idea. Using it means automatically solving the problems. In many cases the solutions will be unfeasible for various reasons, but the entire point is to vet your ideas.

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