John Cook comments:
It would be incredibly arrogant to think that you almost came up with every great idea you see.
True. However, it’s common in both academia and entreprenuerial activities to have great ideas which you subsequently find out that someone either (1) already has done, or (2) does before you do. This has happened to me an innumerable number of times, and serves to remind me that my ideas aren’t that bad (yay!), but that good ideas aren’t remotely enough.
The interesting part is that people often seek the glory by virtue of having had “the idea”. In my experience, there are lots of bright people out there- but ideas are cheap. They take almost no cost to produce, and do not go anywhere on their own. Many academics will have exactly the same idea, much as many entreprenuers have similar ideas.
I’d guess that having an initial idea is responsible for about 10% of academic or entreprenuerial success. The rest is all perseverance, intelligence in execution, perseverance, hard work, and perseverance. Making a great paper or a succesful business is much more about effort, sweat, and time.
So if you think that you can make it in either academia or small business because of your wits, you might want to be careful – you’ve missed the other big ingredient.