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Cartoon: colleagues shocked by idea

Everyone Hates Your Brilliant Idea

By Jeffrey Baumgartner

Everyone hates your brilliant idea. Not at first of course. At first they loved it, when it popped into your mind, inspired by your second (or was it the third?) gin and tonic at the pub round the corner where you fled with your colleague friends for a de-stressing end of the day drink or two or three. Then, they loved your idea as they laughed and they toasted you and said, "you should do that!" never thinking you'd be daft enough actually to do it. No way.

In the sobering light of the next morning's sun, you still glow with the compliments of your tipsy colleagues. As you shower, your brilliant idea takes further form. It could really make a difference you believe with no false modesty. It will lead to changes, of course, but changes for the good, you are sure.

When you share the idea at the next staff meeting, your drinking buddies look on in horror. They vaguely recall your saying something along those lines at the pub the evening before, but they did not -- no not at all -- think you'd really take such an idea seriously. Good grief, no!

Meanwhile, your other colleagues in the meeting laugh, but not in a good way. They say:

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

"Our customers would never like it."

"It would never work."

"Not here, no way!"

You are discouraged, but not quite enough to kill the idea in your own heart. Not yet. Let us hope, not ever.

Later, a mature colleague, who has been with the firm probably since the fall of the Roman Empire, invites you into his office. "I just wanted to warn you," he says ominously as you look around for assassins hidden in his office or on the roof of the building next door, "That you should be very careful with that idea of yours. That's not the way we do things around here. It could get you in trouble. Drop it. It's for the best," he says.

You do not like to be pushed around and somehow, each rejection gives you further strength and determination. You won't let them kill your motivation. You persevere and push forward. Finding spare moments to put the idea together; to develop it; to build a prototype as your colleagues pretend you are doing other things. If you're lucky, they think you're a bit eccentric, but not dangerously so, and leave you be. Fortunately, for you and your idea, they'd rather not believe that you continue to have the audacity to want to shake up the company with that ridiculous idea of yours. And they leave you and your idea in peace.

Understand them. Your idea would force change and new ways of working. It would disrupt processes and make old ideas, ideas that have kept the company going for years, obsolete. Frankly, your colleagues just don't want to think that way, which just now is good for you. They close their minds to your brilliant idea and get on with their tasks for the day -- each and every day that your idea simmers in your mind.

With all this negative energy, you might be discouraged. Why persevere when everyone hates your idea, you may wonder. Why not just get on with business as usual? But it's too late. The seed is planted, the idea is growing.

"Thank goodness for that," I say. "Thank goodness for that! So, please, please keep it going!"

Because, over time, your colleagues may soften. Your prototype will impress them. Your determination overwhelms their apathy. "We could give it a try," a manager cautiously says one day.

And you do.

At first, the results disappoint you. You expected better.

But be patient, my friend. You've fought tooth and nail to get your idea to this stage. Yours is not some trivial suggestion for moderate improvement, but a grand, brilliant and bold idea. An idea that will change your world and your company for the better. Give it time.

And with time, results get better and better. The idea takes off. With time, it becomes more spectacular than you ever expected. It is written up in Forbes, Financial Times, The Economist and a dozen other business journals. Your brilliant idea is a winner. It changes things. It makes the world a slightly better place.

As for your colleagues who hated your brilliant idea: "No, we didn't. We've always loved it!" they say. "It was others who were against it," they insist.

But you and I both know that the only reason your idea ever succeeded is because you believed in it relentlessly. You persevered when everyone hated your idea and warned you against taking it seriously. In spite of the hatred and discouragement, you pushed forward and made it happen -- the only way bold, brilliant ideas ever happen. Because, you see, everyone hates a brilliant idea until it is proven and then they love it.

But, you ignored the nay-sayers. You persevered. You made it happen.

And thank goodness you did!



© 2014 Jeffrey Baumgartner

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Jeffrey Baumgartner
Bwiti bvba

Erps-Kwerps (near Leuven & Brussels) Belgium