What to do with all the naysayers

Jennifer J

You’ve decided to step out on your own and defy the status quo. Internally you feel the trepidation and you hear the voices in your head telling you that you are never going to succeed. What is worse, however, is then having to hear the voices of others saying “that sounds stupid”, “no way that will work” or “that sounds risky – are you sure?”.

It’s inevitable when you decide to take life into your own hands and do something that only a rare few have been able to achieve that you will face criticism. Unfortunately,‘naysayers’ are a fact of life. So what do you do with these naysayers?

The many self-help books you read today tell you to ignore those naysayers and to eliminate them from your life. Do not allow them to be a road block on the path you have chosen to take.  Whilst this is prudent advice and definitely something to consider when you do begin to hear the criticism; it is important to note that not all naysayers are out to see you fall.  What ifthe naysayer were a mentor? What if they were parents or close friends?

More often than not, entrepreneurs become so consumed with their ideas that it becomes extremely difficult to take a step back and analyse what they are doing with clear and honest eyes. It just may be the case that the naysayers were right, but you just couldn’t see it and chose to ignore them. If only you had listened you could have saved a lot of time, energy and money. So what is the balance?

To determine whether you should listen to a naysayer you must look to  what the source of the opinion is. How valid is the opinion of a person who has spent their lives working a 9-5 job for a pay check, with no courage to pursue their dreams; or worse yet, has no dreams? They have never entered the arena of entrepreneurship and never dirtied their hands with the risk, vulnerability or failure of starting a business. Worse yet, they have no experience or qualifications in the industry you are about to enter.  How valid should their opinion be? Remember, you are the gate keeper to what opinions you let in and what you disregard; and this type of naysayer needs to be disregarded!

But what if your mentor does not believe in your idea? Your mentor who has relevant knowledge and experience to give you an informed opinion.  I had previously begun a business venture in a new industry with little to no experience. I had started spending money to develop products and had invested a lot of my time. My enthusiasm for the idea had blinded me from the realities of the industry I wanted to enter. However,  I was fortunate enough to speak with an expert in the field who really shed light on how overcrowded the industry was and how much money it would take and how difficult it truly was to create a following in that sector. Based on this advice, I decided not to pursue my idea any further and am now very thankful for listening.

Not all naysayers are championing for you to fail.  Maybe it is necessary for you to take the advice of your mentor and quit. It may save you a lot of time, energy and money that you may waste 1, 5 or 10 years down the track when you realised your idea really wasn’t that great.

What if the naysayer was your parents or best friend? It is so important to understand why they are being naysayers. They come from a place of love, but this usually means finding a respectable 9-5 job so you have a reliable income and they can have peace of mind.

It’s really important to understand that before you decide to entertain the opinion of a naysayer you need to look at the source of the opinion. It is hard to have this mind shift. But I guarantee if you try, it will soon become a habit which inevitably will make your life easier as it will allow you to step back and  better assess your idea so that you may evaluate whether you want to proceed with it or not.

Jennifer Jampala is a budding entrepreneur, traveler and yogi. She is passionate about building businesses, relationships and experiences. 

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