Ignore the Nay Sayers!

In the previous article I talked about the importance of having a vision and thinking big which, if you share with others will lead to something else, being able to ignore the nay sayers.

Many times in life, if we share with others our goal, something we want to do they will quickly tell us why we can’t succeed and should not even try. Often they have no experience to provide this assessment of our success probability, but with absolute certainty they will tell us we will fail, it can’t be done. It’s not clear why, it may be people lack motivation to try things but as long as no one else is doing anything they feel OK with that. The thought of others doing things, trying something new makes them feel bad about their own lack of progress or ambition so at all costs they must stop it. Our dream must be crushed.

Whatever the reason, often in life people will tell you what you want to do can’t be done, they are nay sayers and we need to just ignore them. What they think really doesn’t matter. As I mentioned before

“It always seems impossible until it’s done” – Nelson Mandela

My father used to say only listen to people who you respect, who have done something you want to do. I can count on one hand (outside of my wife and kids) the people whose opinions actually truly matter to me. People I trust and believe actually give genuine, considered input. Remember people project what they want you to see so unless you really know someone be careful of blindly trusting their opinion.

Sometimes people will say they tried the thing and failed so you shouldn’t try. Just because someone tried once at something, failed and gave up does not make them an authority on something!

For those people whose opinions we don’t value there is no need to hurt people’s feelings, the world is rough enough and remember we don’t care what they think so we can nod, “maybe you’re right but I’m going to give it my best” etc. while we quickly put everything they say in the recycling bin of the brain as what they said holds no importance for us. Maybe we use it for motivation TO succeed. Why waste the energy arguing!

I remember when I decided to do my first IRONMAN one of my friends actually bet I wouldn’t be able to finish, he bet me a steak dinner I wouldn’t finish. I enjoyed that steak a lot! You have to absolutely believe in your vision, give it your all and just ignore what others say.

Now sometimes it’s you that is the nay sayer, that negative inner voice! We all have it at times. During that same Ironman in T2 (which is the transition between the 112 mile bike and the run (meaning already done 2.4  mile swim as well)) I got second degree sun burn during the bike portion (it was 100% humidity and 100 degrees) and I hadn’t trained enough and just sat in the tent with my head in my hands in a lot of pain and just exhausted. Now I had to run (walk) a marathon, 26.2 miles. I just kept telling myself I was done, there is no way I can do a marathon now. But again it’s just another nay sayer, we will all doubt ourselves at times especially when we have a setback but those are the times we get back up and keep going. Yes I walked an entire marathon as couldn’t run, yes it sucked 🙂 Doubting yourself is normal, have the doubt then move past it and do it.

So think big, be brave and ignore all the nay sayers, even you!

Thinking Big!

This is the second article in the virtual mentoring series and builds on the first article where I talked about the importance of having a vision. This article also could have been called “Don’t be afraid to fail” as often that’s what stops us from having big goals, dreams or visions.

When you are thinking about your vision think big, have an ambitious goal, and shoot for it. Sure, you can set a small, easy to achieve vision but then so what, are you now where you truly want to be? Remember we are talking about our vision. Now to get there we may break it into steps which is fine but that ultimate, big picture end state for whatever aspect we are thinking about should be big and a challenge.

Often this is not comfortable because what if we fail? What if you do fail? So what? We all fail! Through life there are many times we fail but I always think of a great saying “sometimes you win, sometimes you learn” and that’s all a failure is, a lesson of some kind. We fail an exam; well we probably know where we are weak now and that failure can help us focus our studies and so we learned something from that failure. When I learn something really well it’s not because it worked the first time it’s because it DIDN’T work and I struggled, and I researched and eventually worked it out so now I know it well. If I hadn’t failed at first, then I would have nowhere close to my knowledge of that subject. When we train physically such as lifting weights we lift TO FAILURE as it’s only by failing we grow the muscle.

Failing at something is not the same as being a failure. You fail and try again is winning in life. Only if you let something keep you down and giving up is failure. People who know me know I love movies and I love the speech in Rocky Balboa where he talks to his son and I have a poster up in my gym which I think sums up life very well. Life is about being able to take the hits, the failures and keep moving forward, that’s how we win and achieve our vision.

We should give things our best and if we give our best and don’t succeed then we still gave our best and trying something and failing is far better than not trying because we are afraid we might fail.

So we are not afraid of failing on our path to the vision. Really think about what you want, where you want to be and make that your goal.

Never ever thank small!

The Importance of Having a Vision

Let me preface this making it very clear this is NOT a technology article. Rather this is about how I think about everything I do and I’m writing this as several people have asked me what drives me and for virtual mentoring. I hope to create a series of these when I have time and I’ll likely also create a video version 🙂

In this article I wanted to share something that has always been very important to me and that is having a vision. If you were to come to my house in my pool room and my studio where I record my whiteboard videos you would see two custom signs I had made which are the 5 rules of success from Arnold Schwarzenegger. In my gym you’ll see a metal poster version I found online. Even before I discovered his rules I had always lived by my own rules which were almost the same so I was drawn to them instantly (and his were articulated much better). I want to focus on that first rule and hope to cover others in future articles but they are all intertwined and so I will touch on others briefly throughout.

Having a very clear vision, a goal, is everything in life. Without a clear end point no matter what you do you are unlikely to succeed. You could have the grandest, most amazing ship in the world but without a captain who knows where they are going that ship will just drift around, never getting to its destination. In life it is critical we have that same vision of where we want to be. We need to be able to picture that end state very clearly. That vision can relate to our jobs and/or our personal life.

  • “By the end of this year I’m going to help my customer digitally transform by moving 20% of their datacenter workloads to Azure PaaS services”
  • “In 3 months I’m going to run a 5k with my kids”
  • “Next year on that trip to Paris I will be able to speak French”

When we have a clear vision the work we have to do to get there we do gladly as it puts us one step closer to that vision. The work has a purpose. When you are working towards your vision it is not a chore as you can appreciate its purpose. This is also why it is critical it is YOUR vision and not a vision someone else is setting for you!

Now this is where the other rules come into play when we think about our vision. When we define our vision it is often tempting to pick a very small vision, something we believe we can easily achieve but why? We should set ambitious goals. People have small goals because they are afraid to fail so they pick a safe goal but by picking a small vision we cheat ourselves of pushing ourselves and achieving more. Don’t be afraid of failing, everyone fails, sometimes we win, sometimes we learn but every failure teaches us and makes us stronger. We don’t grow without failure but that’s another article :-).

We must ignore the naysayers. If we share our big vision others will question it “that’s not possible”. Ignore them.

“It always seems impossible until it’s done” – Nelson Mandela

When people say something can’t be done it simply means they cannot achieve it. That’s OK, you’re not asking them to. We have a clear vision and are willing to put in the work to make it a reality and believe in our vision.

Think big, be brave and do whatever it takes to make that vision your reality. Once you find your vision, everything else will follow.