I went “freelance” about a month ago. I put that in quotes because I’m no expert. I am taking everything as it comes and working hard until I do know what I am doing and how to do it.
This week I was having a conversation with an acquaintance. It was a brief and casual conversation. I mentioned a business idea I had, since it was relevant to the topic we were discussing. Suddenly, the conversation turned aggressive. My acquaintance sternly told me the following:
“I know business, and that’s just not how business works.”
I thought to myself, wow, how interesting that this person knows basically nothing about me, my history, my education, or my business, and yet he feels entitled enough to tell me I have it all wrong.
I brushed it off at the time, but it really did bother me.
My immediate reaction when someone nay-says an idea I have, a risk I am taking, or something I am trying to make happen, is watch me do it— watch me prove you wrong.
The idea of proving someone wrong can really light a fire under us to try harder, to get the job done, to find a way. It can be so satisfying when we achieve something, to rub it in the faces of our ex-partners, ex-bosses or family members who thought we could never pull it off.
But that satisfaction comes from the outside.
What if we shifted our response to people who tell us we can’t do something?
What if, instead of “I will prove you wrong,” we said, “I will show you it is possible”? What if we asked, “Why not try?”
I guarantee you that you know at least a handful of people who buy into the idea that there are rules in life, the world, business, whatever… and that those rules are unbending and unbroken. We are taught from an early age that the “real world” works a certain way. When we are kids, we are simultaneously told that we can do anything we want, and yet that we must follow a certain trajectory. It is not surprising that we often accept things (jobs, systems, business models) for how they are without trying to challenge them. It is also not surprising that we scoff at people who are taking risks and asking questions. We are taught that these people are unrealistic. We are taught that the people who do succeed going against the norm are the exception– that they had some stroke of luck, or some reason they were able to do it that we could never possibly encounter.
When we accept the rules as they are, we go nowhere. We do not get innovation. We do not foster creativity, growth, and learning. We stay the same.
“I’ll prove you wrong,” is angry and competitive because we feel personally attacked. Can we change how we respond? Can we say, “I am going to question the rules, and I will show you how”?
When you are told you can’t do it, instead of letting your bruised ego react, remember that love accomplishes far more than anger. Yes, you can prove them wrong. But don’t stop there. Show them that so much is possible beyond what we think the rules are. Show them that challenge is not a reason to stop. Show them your courage so that they, too, might try something they once thought was impossible.
I hope to have another conversation with my acquaintance one day, and I hope to tell him about how my business worked the exact way he told me it wouldn’t. I hope to have a conversation not to say “I proved you wrong,” but to plant a seed that says, instead, “perhaps the rules are different than we think.”
Do you have a story about how you challenged the rules or proved someone wrong? I would love to hear about it. Email me!