seedlings

What to Do When No One Believes in Your Idea

Your big idea is a part of you. You invest your hopes and dreams in it. Perhaps this is the idea that will change your life, make you a million and provide you the purpose you’ve been seeking. So when others don’t share your enthusiasm or can’t your idea’s potential as you can, it can be disheartening, even worrying. Are you wrong? Does your idea actually suck? Doubt starts to creep in and that is often the beginning of the end. You quietly put your idea back in its box, think “Oh well, it was nice while it lasted” and life continues.

“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.” ~ Suzy Kassem

You need to give your big idea a fighting chance. You have to protect it from the cold reaction of others and give it a chance to take root and grow. Is your idea a winner? Who knows. That’s not the point. What is important is that you give it a fair go before abandoning it.

How to stay positive when others don’t believe

  1. “It’s possible”. Motivational speaker Les Brown advises his audience to simply tell themselves, “It’s possible” when going after their dreams. It’s a powerful mantra and avoids delusional affirmations or deluded thinking. You don’t have to have complete conviction in your idea (and you most likely won’t). All you need is to quietly acknowledge that whatever outcome you’re seeking, it’s possible.
  2. Opinions are not facts. Don’t confuse what people think with facts. The other person can’t read the future. They are simply expressing an opinion personal to them. When you listen to what others are saying, consciously categorise what you hear as “opinion” or “fact”. In addition, look at who the advice is coming from. Are they qualified to give advice? Are they your target audience? Have they achieved something similar to what you are trying to do, i.e. if you want to launch a startup, do they have startup experience? Beware the trap of automatically valuing the opinions of others over your own.
  3. Start moving, now. You’re in a dangerous position. Once doubt sets in, inaction is not far behind. And doubt combined with inaction means your dream is in intensive care. If you stay in this place for long, your dream is as good as dead. Stop sitting around thinking, brooding, ruminating. OK, someone didn’t believe in your idea – it doesn’t matter. Acknowledge it then get off your backside and start working on your dream anyway. Take that first step and keep going. Inertia will kill you here. Build momentum by taking action and do it fast.
  4. Eyes on the prize. Keep your focus on your goal and not the obstacles. It’s easy to let trivial matters slow you down and eventually pull you under. Each day, remind yourself of the ultimate goal. Don’t major in minors. Break your goal into parts then get to work. And remember, whether you decide to pursue your goal or not, the time is going to pass, so decide what you want to do with it.
  5. Learn to accept the outcome. There is a Zen saying, “In all matters, have no preference“. What is stopping you from attempting your big idea? In a word, fear. You’re afraid that you might fail; afraid that you might be rejected; afraid that you might look silly or afraid of discomfort. Don’t let these paper prisons hold you. Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen?” If the worst is too much (e.g. you’ll lose your home and your kids will starve), think of something else; but if the worst is not so bad, i.e. if you can bounce back from it, then give it a shot. You have a goal, you go for it, it may or may not work out. That’s the game.
  6. Expect obstacles. If you’re expecting a journey without bumps, detours and wrong turns, you’re in for a shock. You should be prepared for setbacks so that when they do happen, they don’t throw you off-course. It’s all part of the journey; try to value it as part of a richer experience. Overcoming challenges is what gives dreams their value. If it was easy, it wouldn’t be so rewarding or meaningful. Remember, the value of accomplishing a dream is the person you have to become in the process, not the dream itself. As each obstacles arises, solve it; solve enough of them and you’ll get to your destination.
  7. Associate with positive people. You become the average of the five people you spend most time with. Associate with negative, bitter people and you will be negative and bitter. Seek out people who understand your vision and the reasons that motivate you. Surround yourself with people who will cheer you on and offer encouragement. Better yet, find people who will hold you accountable for pursuing your goals.
  8. Give value to the world regardless. Putting aside what others think of your idea, is it something that will give value to the world? Is it something you’d be proud to see become reality (regardless of how it’s received by others)? Is it something that is important to you? If so, that’s all the reason you need to proceed.

Takeaway points

  1. Expect setbacks and obstacles so that they do not demoralise you when they arise.
  2. If you start doubting your idea, take action immediately. Any delay at this crucial point will kill your project.
  3. Be at peace with the outcome. If you fail, it’s not the end of the world.

Action steps

  1. What are you afraid of? What is stopping you taking action on your idea? Why do you need other people’s approval? If you were more courageous, what would you do now?
  2. Write down your answer to “What’s worst that can happen?” You have to face the possibility that your idea may not work as you hope. So, ask yourself what’s the worst outcome possible? Is it bearable? If so, start taking steps towards making your idea a reality. If the worst-case scenario is too painful, modify your plan. Make adjustments and compromises for the time being until you have proven the viability of your idea to yourself. It’s important to write down your answer to this question – it helps make your fears tangible and therefore manageable, rather than a vague, hard-to-confront unease.
  3. Take the first steps. The secret to getting ahead is getting started. Identify seven steps you can take this week and get going. As you take action, circumstances, situations and opportunities unfold in ways that will surprise you. Enough thinking and planning; it’s now time to do.



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