Thank Me Later

John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy said that: "Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought".

And my experience in making "big deals" mirrors that statement exactly...

Myths are a part of every culture going back to the earliest of times when pictures of wild beasts were carved into the sides of caves (great imagery, right?).  The neuro-anthropological side of me would say that myths are a leadership mechanism for "controlling the masses", but that's a silly discussion for a rainy day with lots of coffee.  The truth is that myths are created and shared by all of us every day as a means of understanding what is going on around us.

Think about some popular myths with me:

  • The concept that good eventually always wins out over bad...
  • The idea that success happens if you just keep working hard...
  • The belief that people really need your idea which will change their world...
  • The strategy that great products are so amazing that people just have to buy them...
  • The logic that the larger the business plan, the better it is...

There are quite a few other myths out there as well that executives face head-to-head on a daily basis.  They are semi-believable but totally wrong.  And here is the interesting thing behind myths:

People get pissed when you try to debunk their perception of reality.  (DEWism)

Seriously.  Cynicism, skepticism, and a million other emotional-cisms kick in and people get upset.  "How dare" you try to tell someone that what they have believed in for  years is actually quite wrong.  This probably applies to you.  If you do anything that is at all "different" and "controversial", you have to expect that you will spend the majority of your time CONVINCING rather than IMPLEMENTING.  That's right - getting people to believe is a complete "Dream Drain".  To pull it off and still be sane, you need to have the right motivation.

You need to be prepared right now to fight for your cause -- not the honor and credibility of "being right".

Here is an interesting observation in Reality Check from Scott Berkun who wrote The Myths of Innovation about the toughest challenge that people with new ideas face:

One of the most crushing challenges for an innovator was the reality of how bored the rest of the world was by their ideas.  Finding support, whether emotional, financial, or intellectual, for a big new idea is very hard and depends on skills that have nothing to do with intellectual prowess or creative ability.  That's a killer for many would-be geniuses: They have to spend way more time persuading and convincing others than they spend inventing, and they don't have the skills or emotional endurance for it.

To survive (for your passion to keep burning), your attitude needs to be "thank me later" rather than "tell me I'm right, right now".

Focus on the bigger vision is  the best approach to tackling this opposition to forward progress.

  • You may have to come to grips with the understanding that you may NEVER be recognized as being the "leader" or "creator" of an idea or movement while you are alive....
  • You may need to step-down personally as the "leader" and find the right "spokesman" for your vision so that you get your story told in the best possible way to the right audience...
  • You may think that everything you are doing to make the world a better place has not come back in a way to provide you the recognition or social standing of which your idea is worthy...

That's OK! People can "Thank You Later..."

As long as your ego is manageable  -- at least enough to allow you to sacrifice immediate gratification for the good of the cause or the idea that you are passionate about -- you have the greatest odds of surviving the war on MYTHS...  It's really the best chance you have.

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