Some of the best business advice I’ve been given is, “Ignore the naysayers.” The naysayers are the folks who are ALWAYS negative.
Most of us have an internal pendulum of confidence and fear. Our fear dreads failure, is unsure of the future, and hates risk. When naysayers talk, our fear is inflamed.
Naysayers point out the reasons to not make a business decision, and fear makes the reasons seem foreboding: the timing isn’t right, tough times ahead, not enough information, too risky, it won’t work, you can’t afford it.
Sometimes those warnings are reasonable and even accurate. There’s nothing wrong with heeding caution when it is warranted — we need those voices in our lives.
But naysayers are way beyond such thoughtfulness. If all we do is listen to the naysayers, we’ll be perpetually stuck in neutral, too fearful or confused to make a decision. We have to balance the voices we hear – some confident, some cautionary.
Naysayers hate that the future cannot be controlled. Launching a new endeavor and taking a risk can test our confidence. We can plan and plan, and still get it wrong. That’s the nature of business. It’s the nature of life. Naysayers pin all their negativity on their fear of the future.
So who gave me this advice? My father, and I remember the very moment it happened.
I was young, around 10, and we had gone to lunch with some of my dad’s business friends at The Spur in South San Jose. As lunch was served my dad described a small property for sale. It was old, lots of problems, poor visibility. Not a single one of my dad’s buddies liked it.
As we were leaving, I asked him if their negative opinions changed his mind about buying the property.
He grimaced, shook his head, and said something like, “Those are good friends. But they can be afraid of the future because they can’t control it. I try to ignore the naysayers because the future is coming either way. I can do nothing and lose, I can work hard and fail, or I can work hard and succeed. Might as well put myself in a position to succeed.”
Dad did buy the property and as predicted by his buddies, it was a load of problems to deal with. The tenants were problematic, the deferred maintenance was unending, and even the City had issues with the property.
But in time all those issues were overcome, and Dad made a nice profit. He put himself in a position to succeed by ignoring the naysayers.