The Truth about Naysayers February 10 2016, 1 Comment

“My one piece of advice to you?  Don’t do it.  You’ll work all the time and won’t make any money.”  

I hadn’t recognized the number when it appeared on my phone, but I knew who she was after she introduced herself.   

A friend had suggested we connect months prior.  She was the owner of a gourmet food business, with ten years in, who offered a great product line and appeared to be successful.  Like me, big life changes had propelled her to want to write her own ticket.  She had thousands of hours of sweat equity logged and real life experiences with employees, vendors, and customers.  

In the months prior to HCGC opening its doors, I had reached out to several business owners, both local and abroad, seeking advice, support, and suggestions. Most were welcoming, eager to share resources on everything from refrigerator technicians to the distributors through which they procured ingredients. People were generous with time and information.  While no one told me I was on an easy path, the woman on the phone that Thursday morning seemed particularly discouraging.  

Of course, it didn’t help that I was in the middle of fighting major oven anxiety.  

In hindsight, I don’t believe my colleague was trying to sabotage my success or try to scare me out of business.  She was being real with me, and her words most likely reflected what she was feeling or where she was at in the moment.  Maybe she had a rough few weeks with long hours and big bills.  Maybe her star employee had just quit on her. 

The truth about naysayers is that most of them mean well.  Sure, there are those who discourage you out of their own agenda, or others who may want to see you fail, but I believe that these types of naysayers make up a very small percentage of the naysaying population. I believe that most people really want to see others succeed.

When someone jumps in front of you and says “don’t do it!” it’s usually because they are trying to protect you from something they perceive as harmful or dangerous.  Of course, “perceive” is the operative word here, because our worlds are all colored by perception.  Maybe my dream job was this woman’s nightmare.   

When someone naysays by trying to discourage you from taking a risk, it’s usually out of their own fear of that risk, and if they are trying to discourage you from something they have done themselves, they are most likely trying to protect you from reliving their own less than satisfying experiences.  

To many, worrying is part of how they show love. 

With any new pursuit, you will find the people who will rally around you and say, “go!  You can do it!,” and those who will say, “You’re crazy. Quit while you’re ahead.”  Any new endeavor, especially “big ones,” will include a chorus of both cheerleaders and naysayers. 

One of the reasons I took my colleague’s naysaying to heart was that I was in a place where I felt particularly vulnerable. Starting a business is a huge emotional investment, in addition to one of time and money.  

If you can separate yourself enough from your feelings to know you’re on shaky ground, you’re more likely to avoid internalizing someone’s else negativity. 

I won’t suggest that you only surround yourself with like-minded people, either, because healthy debate will help you see fresh perspectives.  However, I will tell you to surround yourself with people whose opinions you trust, even when they are often different from yours.  

Later that week, our signs were delivered. 

Then, the Jimi Hendrix portrait arrived. 

They were tangible reminders of a story that had begun to take shape.  

I was beginning to feel like I “owned it.”      

I did not stay in touch with the woman who called me that Thursday morning, and while I appreciate her sharing her honest viewpoint with me, I’m glad I didn’t listen to her advice. 

There would be mistakes and missteps along the way, but there would be no regrets.  It was my story, the good, the not so good, all of it, mine.

"When we own our stories, we get to write the ending". – Brene Brown