Those who believe the glass is half empty.
BRYCE ON NEGATIVITY
It is one thing to offer wise counsel, it’s quite another to try and screw things up for others simply by being negative. I remember when I was a kid, there would be classmates who advised me that I shouldn’t take a particular class, that it was too difficult and I would fail. Interestingly, I didn’t. I also had friends tell me not to play football; that it would affect my grades and I would injure myself. Again, it didn’t; and I found it to be a very rewarding experience.
As I got into the workforce, I found even more naysayers who would tell me, “It cannot be done,” or “We’ve never done it that way before.” I’ve also seen this same phenomenon in several nonprofit organizations I have participated in. If I were to follow the advice of these naysayers, I would probably be still living at home with my parents sleeping in my crib.
Although I listen to the advice of the naysayers, it gets rather old after a while and a bit disconcerting. These are people who honestly believe the glass is half empty all of the time, and get visibly upset when you point out that the glass is actually half full. Their negativity can wear on a person over time. If you tell someone they cannot do something enough times, people start to believe it and act accordingly. Basically, naysayers want us to conform to their way of thinking, but by doing so, they are discouraging original thought and innovation which is a tragedy.
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In a way, it reminds me of a chapter from Ayn Rand’s acclaimed novel, The Fountainhead, about a brilliant architect who dares to stand alone against the hostility of unimaginative conformists. In the book, Howard Roark, the protagonist, is brought up on charges of destroying a building he designed. In the courtroom, he offers an eloquent defense which ultimately leads to his vindication. Although space prohibits me from including his complete courtroom testimony here, the following passage sums up the problem with naysayers. In the courtroom, Roark explains to the jury…
Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their own vision. Their goals differed, but they all had this in common: that the step was first, the road new, the vision unborrowed, and the response they received–hatred. The great creators–the thinkers, the artists, the scientists, the inventors–stood alone against the men of their time. Every great new thought was opposed. Every great new invention was denounced. The first motor was considered foolish. The airplane was considered impossible. The power loom was considered vicious. Anesthesia was considered sinful. But the men of unborrowed vision went ahead. They fought, they suffered and they paid. But they won.
In a strange way, naysayers are doing us all an important service; for every “problem” they identify, I see an “opportunity.” As I learned a long time ago, if I can think a problem through, I can do it.
I have advised my children that throughout life they will undoubtedly meet with naysayers who will take pleasure in chiding them as to what cannot be done. I thereby admonish them to prove them wrong and return the favor.
Keep the Faith!
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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.