A few weeks ago, a client shared a goal with me for the third time.
On both instances previously, I had shared suggestions which they agreed to but didn’t act on.
This time, I asked what they thought we could do to achieve it. Their response was that since I was the content specialist, I should suggest a strategy.
I proposed a strategy which had worked for a competitor of theirs and I understood deeply since I was part of the team that executed it. I explained how it would help them achieve their goal almost 200% quicker while saving costs.
Their response was, “that’s good, Vishal. But this won’t work for us.”
“Why not?” I asked.
“Vishal, you don’t understand,” they said. And that was that.
I hear this dialogue over and over again when I share less conventional strategies with people — clients and friends alike. They agree with the logic. But it’s not enough to convince them that the ideas will work. Instead, they come up with all sorts of theories to dismiss them.
When people don’t understand something clearly, they don’t understand why they oppose it. And instead of building a deeper understanding, they build walls of resistance.
A common way to identify this phenomenon is their follow-up to the “you don’t understand” dialogue. Ask them to elaborate on it and they say, “I don’t want to talk about it.”
This Happens With Successful People Also
Tim Ferriss writes books on how he automated his life and how we can do the same. But his critics declare all of it impossible without trying a single step. They say he can do it because he’s lucky.
Warren Buffett is another example. People who want to meet him have to call his secretary the day before to know whether he has an open slot in his calendar. And contrary to his busy peers, Buffett’s schedule is often empty. People say Buffett can afford to do this because he’s Warren Freakin’ Buffett.
But that’s not true. Ferriss cannot apply these steps because he got lucky or because he’s a millionaire. He’s a millionaire because he applied them.
Buffett became Warren Freakin’ Buffett because he chose which decisions to make with the long term in mind and which short term decisions would benefit in the long run.
People Will Not Believe Your Words
In fact, they won’t believe your actions and results either. Or they’ll dismiss what you achieve as “luck.”
This is because they struggle with anything that conflicts with their beliefs. And their beliefs are the lens through which they see the world.
Beliefs are core because they form an integral part of the thing we hold dearest — our identity. When beliefs get challenged, most people see it as an attack on their identity and resist the idea strongly.
And that’s okay. Convincing others to see the world the way you see it shouldn’t be your goal. Making progress should. Progress indicates that your ideas and actions work. Even failure is progress if you learn from it.
Try, fail, try again, succeed… find your own answers.
One of my favorite quotes on this subject came from Steve Jobs:
When you grow up, you tend to get told the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact. And that is: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.
We live in exciting times. The world is evolving each day. And evolution demands redundant rules to be broken and new rules to be written.
Write your own rules. You came into this world to live your own life, not someone else’s. Do something worthwhile, not for the world to approve, but for yourself.
It’s okay if people don’t agree with you. What matters is how strongly you feel about something, how much effort you put into it, and how ready you are to accept the consequences.
Make progress your goal and you’ll never run out of motivation, nor will care about the opinions of “critics” with no skin in the game.