I was thinking about why you should be careful with telling anyone your new idea. This post is about protecting your dreams from well meaning advisors. Ideas are fragile, like little sprouting plants. If the wrong person finds them they can be dismantled.
Your idea needs time to grow. It begins as a seed, sprouts, grows into a sapling, and remains vulnerable to other people’s influences. Once you let your dream become a strong tree it can withstand the battering opinions of well-meaning others. Of course a sprout is nowhere near as impressive as a mature tree, but give it time.
The same disapprovers of before may even turn into admirers once your dream is beautifully grown. No one knows what a seed will become, let if flourish, water it, care for it, protect it.
Why are ideas fragile?
Okay so I really went into the seedling metaphor for an idea. But why are ideas so fragile? I believe the main reason is that once you form the idea in your mind it is at its very beginning. It’s like judging a painting when you have just sketched the outlines. If people came to critique your artwork on day one, would you be able to continue the painting without caring? Or would it affect how you continued?
Another example is a medical student who wants to be an anaesthetist. Everyone tells them how hard it is, how many years it will take and that it is so competitive.
Maybe the medical student would give up on this dream before even starting.
An idea within your mind is difficult to believe in until it has actually been created. People with smaller imaginations have trouble visualising what you can materialise.
So don’t tell your big dreams to people with small imaginations.
And careful! You can’t predict how anyone will react. If you really need to share, be sure of who is safe to share it to.
Why do people tend to shoot ideas down?
Most people don’t mean to shoot down your new ideas. Most of them are actually well-meaning, and think they’re helping you.
There could be subconscious underlying reasons for them feeling the need to criticise.
You can go through a whole list written by psychologists for reasons behind this ranging from control, jealousy, insecurity, strong opinions to good intentions.
Personally, I think people like to feel as if they have company. If they are working a job with long hours and not having spare time, why would they want you to leave your hard job to travel? They would prefer to have company.
Everyone has an opinion
I cannot count the number of people who have told me what they think I should do with my life.
Funnily enough the majority want me to do what they’re doing. The GP trainees tell me to be a GP, the anaesthetic trainees tell me to do anaesthetics, the surgeons tell me to be a surgeon! Every doctor tell me to stick with it. But, have any of them asked me how I feel about it?
In terms of non-medicos, namely my family, they also have an opinion. Based largely on zero knowledge of the medical specialty and training programs. Most say I should be an anaesthetist as it is easy, and requires little to no work. This if of course completely false, and I don’t think it’s wise to take advice from people who have never walked a day in your shoes.
Remember – people who are doing better than you will never criticise you.
Real life examples of great ideas that were rejected at first
Let’s prove it with real life examples. What ideas were rejected in the beginning, that ended up being amazing contributions?
Steve Wozniak offered his original design for a personal computer to his former employer, HP, 5 times, but was rejected. They didn’t believe in his idea. He then went on to found Apple with Steve Jobs, costing HP a $2 trillion business. Doh!
Imagine if Wozniak agreed his idea stunk and continued to be an employee of HP?
Photo: Hannes Magerstaedt (Getty Images)
The idea that the Earth is round
Remember when people thought the Earth was flat? Probably not as the idea that the Earth was round became a thing in 330 BC (ignore the staunch flat-earther supporters). Well Pythagorus declared the Earth was round in the 6th century BC and everyone poo-pooed his idea, thinking him crazy. Now we all have globes representing the Earth.
Vincent Van Gogh
This famous Dutch impressionist painter sold 1 painting his whole lifetime. I’m sure you all have heard of him though, and his amazing Starry Night. During his life he wasn’t a well-known painter, struggled with poverty and mental illness. His painting that he sold is now not even his best known work. The irony is that recently one of his portraits was sold for $148.6 million. Maybe he was just before his time? But it goes to show that just because the crowd isn’t behind your idea, doesn’t mean it isn’t genius.
The Red Vineyard – Vincent Van Gogh – the one painting he sold during his lifetime
Other world changing ideas that were initially rejected include the germ theory, theory of evolution, Air BnB… The list really is endless, but you get the idea.
It takes one person to start a movement
This TED talk by Derek Sivers highlights how it only takes one person to start a movement, showing a video in <3 minutes. He shows a video of a lone guy dancing in a music festival. He looks a bit crazy, an eccentric nut?
A leader needs to be afraid of standing out, and being different. Then this lone leader needs a follower. In the video the first follower joins the one man dancing.
The first follower turns a lone nut into a leaderDerek sivers
Then another man joins, now it isn’t two crazy guys, it is a crowd. A crowd is “news”. Soon more and more people join in, joining the dance crowd is less risky. Eventually so many are dancing that not dancing is standing out. That’s a movement.
What will you decide?
So, will you have the courage to stand out? Hold onto those ideas, ideas are what keeps life exciting. If it wasn’t for new ideas we would not be where we are today.
Please protect your dreams and ideas at all cost. I’d love to see them grow.