“NO, that just won’t work.”
“NO, that’s impossible.”
“NO, we CAN’T do that.”
“NO, you’ll NEVER be able to do that.”
“NO, you can’t get into that class, succeed with that business, change the country for the better, achieve what you desire. AND HERE ARE ALL THE REASONS WHY YOU CAN’T.” (Insert lengthy, depressing, weighty, soul-sucking, and apparently airtight argument here.)
In other words: “SIT DOWN, SHUT UP, AND ACCEPT THE WAY IT IS.”
Refuse to accept that.
Do not just come quietly.
Take a stand for what you believe in, and fight for what you want.
I can tell you that whatever it is you want to achieve or do, there will come a point – possibly multiple points – where you hit a hard “no.” Where the facts are overwhelming, depressing. Where someone who knows much more than you talks to you for a half hour about why it can’t be done (and makes a smart argument, too).
In particular, I’m thinking of an excerpt from the book Undaunted by the Kara Goldin, founder of Hint water, who – when seeking advice from an experienced, big-time player at Coca Cola – was told very clearly that her goal could not be achieved.
Reading about the incident, you can practically feel the weight of this Coke executive’s arguments pulling her down, as he drones on and on, using technical jargon and careful reasoning to tell her that her goal of a natural, unsweetened, flavored water with a reasonable shelf-life could not be successful, and that people would not want it.
The way Goldin recounts it, you can practically feel the spark being drained out of her, the color and optimism from her outlook being grayed and extinguished, the weight pulling her down, as this highly respected gentleman drones on and on, relentlessly… logically… pessimistically… thoughtfully… about why her idea won’t work.
On and on….until she gives up.
She gives in, and says he can just HAVE her company. He can just take it. For free.
She’s so discouraged, depressed. She’s beaten, demoralized. The facts are just that it won’t work.
He doesn’t even accept the offer. He doesn’t want it.
That’s what a a “no” feels like. When you’re faced with someone telling you that it “won’t work,” and their pessimism and logic is so strong, that you yourself feel it completely drain your mood, as you realize….”this just won’t work. It’s impossible.”
At least, you think you realize that.
Because in fact, Kara Goldin went on to do EXACTLY what she was told was impossible, and create a wildly successful multi-million-dollar company.
But she almost had given up. In fact, for a moment there, she had given up…for a few seconds. Somehow later, she convinced herself not to back down. And it’s a good thing, too, because she went on to enjoy some insane success.
But back to this one anecdote:
What was really dangerous about this conversation wasn’t the factual content, but the fact that on an emotional level, she was so discouraged and demoralized.
It might sound sort of touchy-feely to say this, but I truly believe that the most dangerous aspect of this conversation was that it negatively affected her EMOTIONS so much that she almost gave up permanently.
So my advice?
Do WHATEVER you have to do to not let a “No” affect you on an emotional level.
Expect that generally, your first reaction to new or ambitious ideas will be a vocalized or situational “no,” but don’t let it touch you, emotionally.
As Chris Voss – negotiation expert for the FBI, who’s had decades of experience with literal terrorists and hostage scenarios – puts it, “‘No’ marks the beginning of the negotiation, not the end.”
(By the way, Chris Voss has a surprisingly excellent book on negotiating called Never Split the Difference which I highly recommend.)
So look – you’re going to hear “no”s. Small ones, and sometimes big ones, to the point where you almost give in permanently.
And “no”s come in many forms. Maybe it’s someone literally telling you “No, your idea won’t work.” Maybe it’s a class that you want to get into, which is full – with a wait-list. (That’s basically a “no.”) Maybe you tried to do a run – or really, achieve any goal – and you didn’t get the results you wanted, and it made you want to quit. (Again, no one’s actually telling you “no” here, but it’s basically a “no.”)
And it’s okay to back off, to readjust your strategy, to consider alternatives.
But what I NEVER want to hear ANYONE reading this blog do is take that “no” on an internal, emotional level to the point of being demoralized into submission. Definitely not permanently.
As Kara Goldin makes a point of saying in her book, when it comes to your goals, and you hear a “no” – interpret it as “maybe.”
But on an internal, emotional level – do NOT take “NO” for an answer.