Climbing Mountains, Losing Pebbles
If you ever need some inspiration reading some of Muhammed Ali’s many quotes is a constant source for me but this one really struck a chord today so please read on….
“It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.” Muhammed Ali 1942–2016
The idea that something that weighs you down is more of a burden than the actual challenge is a fantastic observation and one that I’ve been coming across more and more when I’ve looked around both in my own endevours and those of my colleagues and friends of late.
There is certainly some concensus between entrepreneurs that surrounding yourself with successful, positive people is almost a must if you wish to become so yourself however I’ve seen far less talk of removing the “Pebbles from your shoe” which in itself could be as important, perhaps more so.
I wrote a chapter in my up coming book “Make Your Passion Pay” about simply getting rid of your sounding boards and third party opinions on the basis of most of them will be entirely unqualified to comment on your ideas and plans however this may well be one stage further as my comments in the book are more directed toward avoiding bouncing your ideas off people with no idea as opposed to simply avoiding constant negativity from third parties.
The positive energy it takes to get things off the ground or have the belief in something to drive it forward can be huge, whether its a business, a sport or a goal within your particular area. The positive energy to follow your path every day is something we must cultivate and protect so when you have people in your life you must interact with, especially if on a regular basis who have little to contribute other than negativity often disguised as caution, worry or doubt then there becomes a point where it is going to sap your energy and this can become a problem you must solve.
How this is resolved will vary greatly depending on who the people are but one of your first issues is not resolution but identification. Much of the negativity we hear daily quite often from the same small group of people passes over us like a raincloud leaving only small drops in our psyche but those drops add up and eventually can leave us soaked if we don’t take cover soon enough.
There is a major difference between someone listening to an idea or plan and pointing out a genuine flaw or hole in a plan, maybe advising a caution via experience or an insight which may help you develop the idea better to being generally negative with no useful or helpful input and the ability to discern this is crucial. However there is another version of this which in my opinion is far worse.
The Expert Idiot
Another figure which seems to rear up more and more of late are the self proclaimed experts who make suggestions or attempt to channel lose ideas usually as a consultant or similar (whether they are paid directly or not) but have limited or no understanding of the subject area. These people are at often at best an expensive diversion and at their worst dangerous. They can be found in many Government let business initiatives where all the advisors have actually zero experience of anything in the private sector which is like an electrician advising on where to place the water pipes.
The private consultants can be even worse; the very fact someone has been prepared to pay them to give their expert opinion can often mean they are already invested in listening. Great if these people get it right but potentially dangerous if they get it wrong. Keep questioning what they are saying no matter who they are! The best teachers always tell you to question their teachings.
I used to work for an internet marketing firm where the guy who owned it employed two so called expert consultants to help him formulate his plans. Eventually I sat in on one of these meetings and was simply appalled. Their approach was more of a business agony aunt than a genuinely useful directive process but worse they gave encouragement and pushed along half formed and under thought out ideas with absolutely no real knowledge of the area they were advising on….Dangerous!
Another company I’ve worked with continually hear what are somewhat outlandish suggestions from the an outsourced “expert” but with no real sensible way of seeing these ideas through and no actual suggestion of practical ways of achieving their ideas. Described politely as a “theorist” by one member of the team I simply see much of their input as misleading and unhelpful, at best a distraction from making more solid progress.
So Now All I Wear Are Flip Flops..
Its tough to lead and sometimes even tougher to lead yourself, the business cliche of lonely at the top may well ring true but seriously countering your natural social instinct to seek validation could pay dividends as an entrepreneur or at least save you fees you don’t need to pay; invest the money elsewhere, a single seminar or book with time for reflection will be thousands cheaper than consultants or blind alleys spend the cash you saved on taking a break somewhere that uplifts your soul and give yourself reflection time. Negative people will pull you down so try to keep them out of your psyche even if you can’t keep them out of your life.
I’ve very much found researching and reading other peoples points of view very helpful and recently have found several great sources which are expanding my thinking but a healthy scepticism can also go a long way in reaching your goals or at least avoiding diversions. Using the late, great Bruce Lee’s mantra “Absorb what is useful, discard what is not” This will serve you well. If all you wear is Flip Flops then the pebbles will just fall out all on their own.
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