At one point in your youth, you made a face and someone cautioned you, “be careful, you’ll stay like that!”
Look in the mirror. Are your eyes crossed, your tongue hanging out, or your lips curled up in an abnormal way? I didn’t think so.
Did your art teacher in grade school ever tell you that your creation was wrong because it didn’t match her idea of the subject you were portraying in your masterpiece? How can art be wrong?
Unfortunately, the naysayers of our youth continue to tsk-tsk creative expression in our adulthood. And in the business world, if you’re not creating, you’re mired in a stagnant pond. Without risk, there exists no likelihood for reward. Without challenge, we don’t learn. When we never explore the possibilities, we deny ourselves of something better.
All too often, you’ve heard the tired cliché, “Think outside the box.” Be creative. Push that envelope of conventionalism. It’s a great concept, but, in reality, most people hover around the perimeter of the box, using it as a foundation. It’s like the umbilical chord that tethers the astronaut floating in space to his spacecraft, the retractable leash that gives the dog a slight sense of freedom. It’s a connection to safety.
Naysayers are the ones holding that leash. They cast doubt on the creations of others, injecting you with the downside of the “what if?” question. They will tell you that your new idea won’t work, it can’t happen, the cost is too high, the quality too low, the timing too long (or too short), and the resources are not in place. They will advise you “why” your plan has no legs but then make no effort to provide an alternative.
The negative thinkers fear change and risk. They sit in judgment of creative thinkers – a poor jury since they lack the capacity to dream as you do! They maintain the innate sense that someone will outdo them. What they don’t realize is that they have set themselves up for mediocrity because they are cloistered in the proverbial Box.
Legendary storyteller Washington Irving once said, “”Little minds attain and are subdued by misfortunes; but great minds rise above them.”
Cartoonist George Schultz created the hapless Peanuts character Charlie Brown, who, in contrast to his sad-sack nature, was the epitome of positive thinking. In spite of the countless times his nemesis Lucy would yank away the football just as he was about to kick, he believed that this time would be the one! Schultz advised “The minute you start talking about what you’re going to do if you lose, you have lost.”
Nix the Naysayers. They can infect your company with an ugly virus, shedding doubt and negativity on their co-workers. Shut them out of your creative thinking. Don’t allow the negative minds to hamper your forward-thinking vision. Imagine. Create. Ponder. View obstacles as opportunities to improve and grow. If your sales are stagnating, look more closely at what your customers might want and find a way to exceed those expectations. Most likely, the solution will come in the form of something you haven’t tried before. Maybe it’s a new service to be added (internally or outsourced). Perhaps your customers have been lulled into a dreamless sleep by the steady onslaught of the same old pitches. Jolt them awake with a brand new idea! What have you been wanting to try for a long time but never did? We all have a wish list tucked away in our minds.
What will be the catalyst to jump-starting others? Let me give you a hint: it’s not a price reduction. Discounting is a short-term solution because price-sensitive buyers are fickle. As soon as someone undercuts you by a few pennies, your customer moves on to the next bidder.
Your success will come from creative thinking. What can I do today that will excite my customers? How can I get my staff charged up? If I could, what would I change about my company?
Gather together some of your best creative thinkers in a room and give them each a doodle pad with the words “What if?” on it. Set the ground rules. You can only offer a criticism if you can accompany it with an alternative.
Brainstorm with your team of positive thinkers. Write down every idea that pops up. Winner of two Nobel Prizes, Dr. Linus Pauling said, “The way to get good ideas is to get lots of ideas and throw the bad ones away.”
Come up with enough ideas and you will certainly hit on a great one! Don’t let the Naysayers hold you back. Cut the cord and explore a new frontier!