“One million reasons to say no, but one reason to say yes” from For The Weekend…March 18, 2022

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One million reasons to say no, but one reason to say yes

When you were trying to develop a new idea or develop, an interesting solution to a problem, a new product, or just trying to make people’s lives a little bit better, there is one large roadblock that always gets in the way. Those million reasons to say no.

It is human nature that everyone, yourself included, will immediately develop a million different reasons, why your idea will not work. This is easy, as there are often many roadblocks to solving a problem. You can attack the idea from any number of directions. You can talk about the cost. You can talk about the lack of technology. You can talk about the vagaries of human nature. You can talk about the problems with legislation. Over and over and over. There will always be more than one million reasons to say “no” to the next great idea, the next great solution.

When I am having a discussion like this I try to turn the conversation around. Collectively we all know about these million reasons to say “no”. Most of them are very obvious and there are so many of them. What I ask t them to do instead, is look for the one reason to say “yes” to the idea. The one reason the idea will work. THe one reason the idea must be one. The one reason that will make it all happen.

Changing the direction of your conversation about any new idea can go a long way towards developing newer, faster, better, stronger, ideas. Sometimes we have to set aside our desire to be smart and point out all the flaws with the particular idea. It’s low-hanging fruit and easy to do. Developing the one reason to say “yes” is difficult work often fraught with frustration and failure, but it can be extremely rewarding if you work through it.

You might think starting with all the reasons “no” might be useful. You can address each one in turn. Showing how you can circumvent, overcome, or go around it. The trouble is, of course, that the number of reasons to say “no” it’s always almost infinite. You could talk about them forever. You need to dismiss these “no” reasons immediately upfront and start looking for a reason, one reason, that makes you say “yes”. Otherwise, it is too easy to wallow around in the no-zone and never accomplish anything.

Remember, your goal is to make something great. Focusing on all the reasons you can’t do it is self-defeating. You are giving up before you even get started. In the name of being a realist, you doom yourself to the oppressive status quo that is so easy to maintain. Doing nothing is always easier than doing something, but it is often infinitely more destructive. It allows problems to fester and grow while we “piddle, twiddle, and resolve” as John Adams sings in 1776. It gives us the illusion of doing something when, in fact, we are doing worse than nothing at all.

The next time you were involved in a project or trying to come up with your next great idea, think about the “yes.” Think about the best reason to create this idea even if the problems seem insurmountable. Sometimes they will be, but we are always at our best when we seek the best solutions even in the face of one million reasons to say no.

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