A simple way to use criticism to fuel opportunity


[vimeo id="77436840"] There will always be times when we hear the word “not” about our ideas. “That’s not possible,” “Not now” and “Not here” are all forms of criticism. Sometimes the criticism comes from another person. Other times it’s internal. Whatever the source, each time we hear the word “not” it can keep us from ever acting upon our ideas.

The ideas that change the world always face criticism. Whether they’re successful or not depends on how the person responds to that criticism. If Thomas Edison gave up after people told him that communicating via telephone wasn’t possible, the way we communicate today might look totally different. If Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., ended his fight for racial equality when people told him “not now,” he would never have led the social change efforts that changed our nation. In every situation, each of these innovators used criticism to fuel opportunity.

A few days ago, I ran across a fascinating post from leadership strategist Kneale Mann in which he shared how to use negativity to fuel possibility. Here’s the idea Kneale shared:

“Every time you want to say ‘not’, imagine for a moment you change it to ‘why not’.

… You take one item from your wish list and put it on your action list. Imagine for a moment you take one item on your action list and get it done.”

What are some practical ways you can use this advice from Kneale and use criticism to fuel opportunity?

Here's an idea: the next time you declare that something is not possible, insert the word "why" before "not."

"Not possible" becomes "why not possible?" “Not now” become “why not now?” "Not here" becomes "why not here?"

Then your conversations turn from criticism into questions. And those questions lead to possibility. And possibility, in turn, leads to discovery and change. Granted, it might be more difficult to keep moving forward when the “not” comes from a superior or boss. However, we can still practice this idea to help us think critically through the possibility and find a solution.

What’s one thing that someone told you “not” to? How did you respond?