“How do you find the time to manage all of this social media stuff?” That’s one of the most common questions I’m asked whenever I present. And sometimes, I get the sense that people are hoping that it’s so complicated and time-consuming that they’ll have a great excuse NOT to do it. Not to learn [...]
Pessimism and courage: How to be resilient in the face of criticism
So you have an awesome idea; a vision for a brighter future. You are excited, and cannot wait to share your vision with your family, co-workers, accountant, dentist, or anyone really. Unfortunately, the more you share your vision, the more your get responses like, "huh, that will never work!". Bewildered, hurt and demoralised, you wonder what is the use in even trying?
Congratulations, you have hit up against a pessimist.
It is a cruel trick played on humanity that visionaries and pessimists need each other, yet they are so opposite under their human appearances that it makes synergy rare and nearly impossible.
So how do you overcome the pessimism and achieve your vision?
Pessimism is a personality preference. You are either born with that preference or you are not, and no amount of bargaining will change a pessimist. Nearly half the population share in this personality preference. Pessimism is also a social taboo, so they do not volunteer this information without duress, or until you tell them your ideas.
Pessimism is a future-focused belief system. It makes no sense to be pessimistic about events in the past or present. Pessimism is triggered when a future is proposed which is not a continuation of the past. If something has proven to have worked in the past and is proposed for the future, it will not trigger pessimism. It is the new, the possible and the novel that triggers the pessimistic response.
Pessimism is also irrational by nature. It is a reaction against change, and the failure predictions are statements of imperative cooperation. When they say you will fail, what they are really saying is that you had better cooperate and make sure your own vision fails. It is not a caution based on reason; they do not have any knowledge of how your vision will fail. It must simply fail, and that is all there is to it.
To understand the pessimist is to realise it is them, not you, nor your ideas that are the cause of these predictions of doom.
Remember the opening verse of the serenity prayer:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Once you have proven your vision works, then you will need the pessimists to help deliver your vision to the world. So do not burn bridges.
But in the meantime, you know what? The pessimists are right: you will fail. Your vision will crash and burn. But, so what? If you truly believe in your vision, failure will not stop you, but will build your resilience.
So learn from it and good luck.