There is a role in life for the “devil’s advocate”, BUT it is often way too easy to be focused on the reasons why something won’t work, or why something is wrong. It is much harder to be the person solving those issues and helping to make things work.
In my experience it is the people who “make it happen” who (a) have more fun; (b) are in demand and (c) find the most success.
It is also my experience that those people are not all “optimists”, not all “extroverts”, not all “intellectuals’ … in fact they are a “type” unto themselves. I believe that anyone can learn to adopt a “can do” attitude, and if the world were populated with more of them then we would be in a better place.
The typical reactions of the “naysayer” to a good idea, or a different/better way of doing things is:
“It’ll never work”
“We’ve done it this way for the last 10/20/30 years … there’s a reason for that”
“You are underestimating the politics/infrastructure needs/technology hurdles etc”
The typical reaction of the “make it happen” kind of person is:
“I can see a few hurdles, but let’s battle through them and make this thing fly”
“Its about time we started to look at things differently … let’s push this”.
“Great ideas … I think we need to bring in some expertise in a few areas to help smooth out some potential issues, but its a great start.
If you are an entrepreneur you will have had the “pleasure” of meeting all the people who tell you the many reasons why your company won’t work. If we all listened to them there wouldn’t be any new companies.
Next time your instinct is to shoot down someone’s idea, stop for a moment and try to look at it through their eyes. Better still pretend it is your own idea and find ways to make it even better!
The same principle applies to believing in your (or someone else’s) ability to sell a solution; or make a team; or pass an exam; or learn something new etc.
Think about the times in your life when perhaps a bit of positive support might have made a difference … don’t be “that person” who shatters someone’s dream or even just bursts their balloon.
Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
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