Enlisting others in your idea

“They don’t get it. They’re a bunch of idiots.” That was the report from my new client upon her return from a visit with a high-level prospect. I listened, dumbstruck, as she ranted on for several minutes how stupid these senior executives were to not understand the technology she was trying to sell them.

Years later I heard a similar tone of frustration from a different client. He was upset that his peers hadn’t contributed any effort to an idea they all agreed to in principle. He felt like he was left “holding the bag,” while his peers merely gave lip-service to his effort.

Both clients suffered from the same malady. In their haste, they sailed over the horizon leaving the rest of the fleet back in port.

The same can happen with our ideas and dreams too.

Suppose you want to launch a business or a non-profit and you know you need help. You can’t afford to hire someone, so you have rely on a more valuable asset: influence.

You think about the skills you need (sales, operations, technical, etc.) and you have the perfect person in mind. You approach them with the idea. They seem receptive to it, excited even.

And now you’re all set to misread their interests, just as my clients did. People often respond with initial enthusiasm to an idea only to cool on it after they’ve given it more thought.

The problem is, you’ve been thinking about it much longer than they have and you’re ready to steam ahead. You’re psychologically invested. They are not.

At least not yet.

When you want to enlist another in your cause, your dream, or your idea, it’s critical to remember that they need time to acclimate to it. And the best way to acclimate them is not to “get them up to speed” by telling them what you know, but by engaging them in solving the unknowns with the idea. Invite them to be part of creating it or solving a problem with it, rather than just ratifying what you’ve already done.

Sure, it’s risky. Your idea might never be the same. In fact, it’s likely to be better. And with many advisors, plans succeed (Prov 15:22). At least the non-idiotic ones do.

What are some ways you know when you’ve sailed too far over the horizon and left others behind?
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