Naysayers and cheerleaders

Opinion: Columns

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By Melissa Ford

Coach - Personal & Business


Have you ever had a dream that you secretly yearned for but dared not share? You kept it hidden deep down, knowing that if you risked opening up, divulging your inner desire, you were sure to run into the dreaded naysayer!

Maybe your vision was to start a new business or land that dream job or travel the world or finally get into shape. Naysayers aren't selective about the dreams they disparage or dismiss because their job is simple: to convince you to give up on you. They're in the business of selling self-doubt.  

* Are you sure it's a smart move to leave your secure, well-paying job to start your own business? Have you really thought this through? 

* Everyone knows there's no such thing as a dream job! 

* I wish I could travel the world but I'd feel so irresponsible! Don't you?

Bringing a vision to life can be tricky because, subconsciously, we believe we can't make it happen unless we have support, backup, a solid team who will love and encourage us. So we go in search of our people and along the way we discover those naysayers. 

Five years ago I decided to start my own business. I was excited to do something I loved and scared because I wasn't sure how. Even so, I was hopeful as I shared my plan with family and friends, and they shared with me: 

* Congratulations! I'm so excited for you! 

* I knew you would make this happen! 

* Is there really a market? Will people pay you for that? 

* You've tried before; what makes you think you can pull it off this time? 

I didn't hear the encouragement because I was obsessed with the negative comments. They hurt, especially because this disbelief came from loved ones, many of whom I had supported in the past. I reacted with anger and defensiveness, spending an inordinate amount of time trying to prove them wrong. 

As months passed, I kept telling myself I didn't need their support, but for some reason I kept stalling. Why had my excitement waned? What was holding me back? Secretly, I blamed the naysayers. They killed my courage to move ahead — or so I thought. If only they had believed in me …

Armed with paper and pen, I decided to take inventory. I created two columns, the first headed Naysayers and the second, Cheerleaders. Straightaway I listed the bad guys. There were four. I seethed. Next I recorded my cheerleaders. There were nine. I didn't feel much better, which was confusing because if the good guys outnumbered the bad guys, what was my problem? Should I recruit more members? Was my team too small?

Then I realized there was one key player missing: Me. 

With all of my raging against the critics and fighting for my dream, I unwittingly transformed my swagger into self-doubt. I had become my #1 naysayer! 

No matter what you are up to, there will always be detractors. They'll tell you why you can't succeed or what you want is impossible to create. So what?! The real question is: Are you willing to join the team that believes in you and cheers you on?


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