You have value. That’s the essence of what I tell my clients. It may be a cliche, but it is true. A few don’t need to hear it and we move on to the next step in their project. Unfortunately, too many good people and good ideas are guarded and held secure, fearing rejection, fearing the appearance of egotism, or delaying the crafting of their message so it can be tightly controlled and managed. Very understandable. My job is to help people get over it. The world needs solutions now, not later. Paradoxically, the people with the greatest fears have the least to fear, and the ones who should guard against egotism don’t even consider it. (Explains a lot about American politics.)
My passion is for people and ideas. That’s why I enjoy consulting and strategizing; especially, when it is with entrepreneurs and innovators, artists and inventors. It is marvelous to watch someone describe their idea, watch the energy, watch their enthusiasm. Hearing about the idea is fun too, but watching the body language and mannerisms of someone who is bringing an idea to life is much more than listening to words. Even introverts shine. It is also sad to then watch them shrink as they consider other people’s reactions, to worry about looking arrogant, or finding that someone else already had the same idea, or looking like a fool if it fails. As much as America was built with a can-do spirit, America has also become a society that dismisses enthusiasm and fosters negativity. Flamers and trolls are far too common.
It is easier to speak from personal experience because less discretion is required. I can make a fool of myself really easily. That’s okay. I’m practiced at it. I’m single and no one else feels the consequences. And yet, I know that when I describe something that fascinates me, a concept that makes me exuberant, an optimism that is unconventional, I know that the majority of people will first point out the realities, the caveats, the failure possibilities. That’s why we don’t have electric lights, airplanes, or computers. Oh wait. We do. Evidently, something else is at play.
People aren’t purposely negative. They are purposely protective. Friends don’t want to see friends get hurt. Even in a community of coaches, guides, and teachers like the one I live in, advice can frequently be based on cautions rather than embellishments. It all comes from a positive place and a concern for others.
The result can be an internal dismissal of change, a delay in attempting something new.
I know impressive people. I always have. One of my favorite paraphrased quotes from Will Rogers is, “Everyone is equally ignorant, just in different areas.” because the corollary is that everyone is equally talented, just in different areas. Imagine what could happen if everyone’s talents were engaged.
Also keep in mind that there are numerous champions, supporters, and fans. Sometimes all they need to participate is the news of a new idea; especially one that benefits a community, not just one person.
Within our economic reality, it is too easy to measure an idea by money. Is it profitable? One main measure of sustainability is the financial balancing of income and expenses, and the possible imbalance where income exceeds expenses. When more money is coming in than going out, then most debates dissipate, regardless of the true value. When more money is going out than coming in, then the debates never end, even if the project had great value but ends first. During a recent day when I was depressed, a dear friend turned the talk around to me and pointed out that I have value. In the midst of paying (almost all of) my bills, my response was that decades of working hard and trying to do the right thing were valued by society at less than a living wage. I knew I had value. Economics, however, didn’t currently recognize it. We measure ideas by money, but we also measure people that way too. That’s more than sad.
Within my circle of family and friends, acquaintances and associates, and my electronic social network, I am overwhelmed with the expertise and potential. There are amazing repositories of skills and talents that are real and valuable in: art, growing food, caring for others, improving the future by considering the past, managing money and living frugally, developing solutions to environmental and technological and sustainability problems. Too many people are guarding themselves against looking like Donald Trump and trying to not look like they are competing with Mother Theresa, the Pope, or the Dalai Lama. (Really though, Trump is the analogy no one wants to event be tangentially seen to proximate.)
I confess to some of the same reticence and reluctance. Currently I am working on a possible invention for decentralized energy and a possible variation of a business model for coworks. In both cases I am being a bit cautious until I can say more, and yet having said that much I’ve said more than some of the most impressive people I know. During one client conversation it was pointed out that I’d just delivered a nice bit of wisdom – which was followed by a comment that I should raise my rates. Have I? No. But that interchange has made me think.
It is a common axiom to say, everyone is created equal, every life matters, no idea is stupid, ask for help and you will receive it. Yet, the caution I witness is evidence that the messages many receive are along the lines of, the tallest nail gets hammered down, don’t think too highly of yourself, if you thought of it someone else must have already, if it was such a good idea it already would’ve succeeded somewhere.
The world needs solutions. The world needs art. The world needs compassion. The world needs people who express their ideas while they’re alive, because what good are the ideas if they are buried emotionally or by eventuality?
You are impressive people, even the ones I disagree with. Let’s make the conversation more about what can be done instead of why it shouldn’t be tried. If you need someone to listen to your idea, give me a call. If nothing else, let’s see if we can find someone else who will listen as well.