Most people don’t have the confidence to push through revolutionary ideas. There was an article from the Financial Times about the makeover of Claridge’s in London, which is one of the most prestigious hotels in the world. While Claridge’s was being renovated—one of the most extensive renovations of any building in the world—they kept the hotel open. Guests continued coming in, and nobody knew what was happening.
Imagine you are the owner of this hotel, and you’re telling investors about this diabolical idea to renovate the entire hotel while continuing to run it normally. You have to find an engineering crew, architectural crew, design crew and environmental permitting crew that will accept your plan to do this—and it’s basically never been done before. You have to explain what you want, which most people wouldn’t understand because you are the visionary. Then you have to make sure you get what you want. You also have to deal with criticism in the press because everyone says it’s never been done, and therefore you cannot do it.
The confidence to defend what you’re doing, and be able to explain it
Everyone says they want to be insightful and have revolutionary ideas, but here’s the insight: Do you have the confidence to be this way, assuming you know what you’re doing? From history, we know that almost no one gets revolutionary ideas immediately. The common answer is, “If it was so smart and so insightful, shouldn’t everyone be doing it?”
If you want to be a truly insightful, creative thinker who changes the world with his revolutionary ideas, that’s wonderful—but you also need the confidence to defend what you’re doing and be able to explain it.
Often with clients, we give them the analytic firepower to do something quite revolutionary. But they fail to understand that when they present this to their board, 99% of time it’s completely normal for the board to not get it and push back. The client must have the confidence to see it through. The client expects that the analysis will make it obvious. But in reality, that’s never the way it’s worked in the history of business. The more evolutionary you want to be, the less there is resistance to your ideas. The more insightful, revolutionary ideas you want to introduce, the more resistance you will face. That’s the balancing act you need to have. You must remember that if you want to do something truly unique in the world, it’s going to come down to a seriously large amount of people skills and influencing skills to push it through.
If you don’t have those skills, you’re going to be 60 years old saying, “I had this idea but nobody listened. And now this other guy comes along 15 years later, and everyone follows him, but it was my idea first.” Having revolutionary ideas is not enough. The more insightful you are, the harder it is for people to see what you’re doing. The more unique you are, the harder it is for people to believe in what you’re doing. You need a combination of skills to push through an idea.
The Andrew program (accessible to FC Insiders) is a great example of how hard that is. Andrew basically had to give up his career, sit in another part of a building, and quietly work by himself because nobody believed in what he was doing. Of course, he became enormously successful because he understood that you need to influence people to support you; it’s not enough to have revolutionary ideas.
This is an excerpt from Monday Morning 8 a.m. newsletter, issue #10.
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