So I've been knee deep in branding and development over the last few months working on a side project that I'm crazy excited about. There's a ton of advice in getting...well...anything out there off the ground, but this is possibly the best piece I've run across.
"Ask people why they think you'd fail."
That's a rough one. In business, training, school, work, the vast majority of people are drunk on the idea of encouragement and support. Not saying these things aren't valuable, rare or even necessary, but they can come cheaply. Honest, invested criticism though, I think is rarer and even more valuable.
When I first heard that advice, I thought of all the BJJ/MMA gyms that have come and gone in my area. South Florida is an MMA Mecca, so there's bound to be a lot of entrants...and outtrants...which makes me sad. (Here's a solid list
of the top 10 reasons businesses fail if you're interested) Maybe it comes from being the daughter of a self-employed father, but seeing small businesses close always sends tiny little pangs through my heart. I love the idea of people making a living doing something they enjoy, and I'd like to see more people get that opportunity to do so over the long term. In all honesty though, it's a rare occurrence, and I wonder if that couldn't be changed, even a little, by, instead of asking for Twitter follows and likes on Facebook, people started asking what holes other people see in their idea.
It's a painful process though...painful for both parties and I see why it might be avoided. I've tried it before in my training by asking "what am I bad at?". Whatever the reason (my gender, their politeness, their gender, laziness in not wanting to actually take the time to give an honest answer, apathy, whatever) precious few have been able to be honest enough to do the painful work of genuine help. I've tried it on my project and let me tell you...it hurts. I've had multiple times when I've felt like my idea was completely lame and not worth even continuing with...and I'll probably have more, but I'm thankful for all the people, friends, acquaintances and otherwise, who have been willing to tell the truth in support.
It kind of ties in with a trend I've been seeing in resolutions and self-development. I saw one person (Liam
, it may be you, but I'm on FB hiatus and can't check) dedicate all of 2012 to unlearning. Not just pushing ahead toward the positive, but instead cleaning out all the ugly, heavy, hairy things that weigh us down when trying to make progress.
We really don't spend enough time studying failure.