One of the more difficult things to wrap our arms around is that not everyone out there wants us to succeed. In fact, the numbers are highly stacked against us. More people will seem to want to douse your flame of passions before it gets lit than will block the wind for you.
I don’t know why that is. I don’t.
But we see it everywhere. Writ large and writ small, the people we engage with seem to be either indifferent to our successes or actively engaged in diminishing them.
The media touts destruction and sorrow, with a steady drumbeat of negativity. Even as gas prices are falling all over this country, there are many pundits who are now saying that will bring ruin. Same pundits who predicted ruin when gas prices were on the way up.
We hear that if the economy is roaring, it is a terrible time to start a business because there are already too many businesses doing well. That leaves no place for us.
We also hear that if the economy is doing poorly, it is a terrible time to start a business because there are too few businesses doing well.
Schizophrenia is a terrible malady, NYT… you should see someone about that.
We all know that “haters gonna hate”. And trolls are a new level of disgust pooped from the bowels of the internet. Trolls and haters don’t count… not at all. My advice is simply given, but a bit more difficult to do: Ignore them. In every way.
Arguing with trolls (which I am guilty of doing in the past) is a losing battle. They are by definition NEVER going to have their minds changed because that is NOT what they are about. They are trolls (reference the “Scorpion and the Frog” story for more clarity).
Haters are even a lower form of life, and need to trouble you not. Screw ’em.
But barring the cretinous haters and trolls, we have many people who will stand in our way with good intentions – and they are a bit more tricky to deal with.
The “I don’t want to see you be disappointed” crowd is usually parents and older relatives who really only want to see you succeed but many times bring their own fears and failures forward to stack on your back. This is of course, unfair, but being angry is not the way to deal with those folks. Let them know that you understand that failure is a possibility, one that you have prepared yourself for. Failure can indeed be in your future, but you will accept it only if you have done every possible thing you can to succeed.
Remind them that Disney was bankrupt twice in his life, that Sylvester Stallone was a bit actor with a screenplay about a boxer. Edison was nearly out of funds when he found the material for an electric lightbulb. And Colonel Sanders was a retired guy with a chicken recipe… and running out of funds as well.
To do anything great, risk must be involved. Otherwise there is no greatness. Only the mundane. Tell them that you appreciate and acknowledge their advice, but that you must move on with your dream – and the associated risk – if only to prove to yourself it can be done.
When you meet the naysayers group, the “nobody is making any money in that business” folks, you will undoubtedly be in for some long, undocumented, vague and creepy novellas of treachery, deceit, and defeat.
“My sister’s best friend’s brother knew a guy who knew a guy who was the brother of a woman who wanted to do this and she failed badly… nearly sank her whole town.”
Questions regarding what exactly went wrong are met with shrugs, and vague guesses, but then it isn’t really a news story they are telling you. It is a fictional report of a made up failure to illustrate their own fears.
Which are probably not your fears. (Not that we don’t have fears. No, we got entire rooms full of fears but they are also probably not relatable to their fears.)
Let them know that a lot of people who are unprepared want to go into business right after buying a zoom lens or a Mac. And that unpreparedness is more likely to have been a big contributor to their massive fail than anything else. Let them know you are prepared, you have completed your research, and have your ducks in a row.
Being prepared means the risks are mitigated. Not gone, just made a more palatable percentage point change. They may be a little more understanding, but there are still residual concerns.
Dealing with the obviously and truly jealous is also problematic. Some of them are not even aware of their envy and how it is manifesting itself in comments and little actions meant to demean what you are doing.
“Yeah, those big contracts come along now and then, but be careful… they will probably try to rip you off, and then you will be left holding the bag.”
Well, probably not, actually. But your success worries them because if you are successful they may have to face the fact that they were either not ready, not very good, of completely confused by the business. That makes them feel their loss doubly hard, and they see it as a failure all around.
Now we have our last troublesome group, the ones who feel that your success directly creates their failures. These are the “zero-sum” folks – and the world if full of them. Unfortunately.
They see success as a limited quantity of something… and if you have more, someone else must have less. That is NOT true, never has been. Your success can breed more success for others. You being successful can inspire someone you may never have met into doing something they may never have thought about doing. Being great at what you do can be the impetus for someone else’s greatness as well.
Gravity is such a powerful force of nature. Pulling something down is always easier than lifting something up. Not only in the real world, but in the psychology of our daily interactions.
Now you have seen some of the habits and traits of people who may be bringing others down. You can recognize those traits. And if you are exhibiting any of them, you can stop that right now.
Be a mentor. Be a sponsor. Be a friend that inspires, cajoles, pushes and expects greatness.
Be a positive, uplifting force for good.
It is, in the end, a hell of a lot more fun!
Robert Shaw, International Consultant. Scottsdale, AZ