Own the ‘no’

Have you ever had an idea that’s so awesome you just can’t wait to share it? Have you ever shared one of these incredible ideas only to have it shot down?


I hate it when that happens.

But here’s the thing. Don’t default to the obvious response of blaming the people who tell you ‘no;’ don’t dismiss their reaction as a sign of stupidity, ignorance or obstructionism.

Sure, it’s frustrating when we fail to sell an idea—especially when we are so confident that it will work and that others simply must share our point-of-view. Here’s what I try to do. I try to make an honest assessment and admit that I failed to make the case. I try to “own the no.” It’s possible that the timing was wrong, and that they weren’t ready to listen to my idea. It’s not their fault. I need to learn from what happened.

As a leader with a mandate to drive change, my first job is to create the right environment, a place where change can flourish. This can feel like a waste of time when I have a great idea that I can’t wait to launch. But the decision regarding when and how to present the idea is my choice. I can’t blame anyone but myself if I make my move too soon… or simply haven’t prepared an argument that others find as compelling as I do.

Like you, I like scoring a spectacular slam dunk. But if I fail, it’s not the fault of the guy who blocked my shot. I just need to up my game.

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