The Fragility of Ideas

Sometimes you get an idea.

It could be for a new product or service. Or it could be for a new focus for your biz.

And at first, you’re head over heels in love (or at least in lust) with the idea. It’s all you can think about.

Then you realize, it’s probably time to get some outside feedback before you commit to moving forward.

As tends to happen with feedback, some people love it, some like it, and a few of them really aren’t into it. (Even though you were hoping that every single person would tell you it was the best idea since the DVR.)

Then, suddenly, you’re not sure what you were thinking. And you’re not sure how you feel about your idea anymore.

Maybe it’s just me, but even a little bit of negative feedback feels like having someone piss on my Wheaties.

Start by stopping

When you feel that sense of disappointment about the feedback you received, you need to stop and clear everyone else’s voices and opinions out of your head (and heart).

Because this is the moment where it would be really easy to convince yourself the idea isn’t worth pursuing, just because a couple of people who were honest with you didn’t love the idea.

Now is when you ask some questions. Questions like…

Who loved (and liked) your idea? Are they your Right People?

Have they bought from you in the past? Do they read your blog faithfully? Have they signed up for your newsletter or advance discount list?

If they’ve done one or more of those things, that’s a good sign they’re your Right People.

Who thought the idea needed work? Are they your Right People?

If they’ve never bought from you, aren’t on your list, and don’t read your blog much, take their opinions with a grain of salt.

Often, family members and co-workers (and sometimes even our friends) fall into this category. Be especially careful of listening to feedback from these groups.

What – exactly – did people say about the idea?

If you can get some emotional distance and listen objectively, often you’ll find that the negative feedback came from a misunderstanding of what you were proposing.

And that’s good information to have because it means there’s something about your idea (or how you’re communicating it) that isn’t clear enough.

“Not clear enough” does not equal “not a good idea.” You may want to ask for clarification from them. Or to offer clarification of your own.

That’s assuming, of course, you’re talking to your ideal people.

How does the idea in question fit with the over all vision you have for your business? Is the idea in line with your values and your biz’s values (and purpose)?

If your idea doesn’t fit the big-picture direction you’re trying to go, check in with yourself about why you’re so infatuated with it.

Don’t dismiss it out of hand, though, because there’s probably something in there that you want or need. So how can you give that to yourself without pursuing an idea that’s not aligned with you or your biz?

The point:

Your idea only needs to appeal to the people you want to serve in your business.

If your idea resonates with your ideal clients, and is in line with your overall vision, you’re probably going in the right direction. Even if it scares the shit out of you.

Negative feedback from your not-Right People is a good thing, even if it hurts. It means the stuff you’re doing to attract only your ideal clients is working. (Thanks to Jenny Bones for reminding me about this today.)

And always remember: Regardless of how uncomfortable it is to put our ideas to the test,you are the one who knows what’s best for you and your biz. You get to decide which bits of feedback you’ll incorporate into your idea, and which ones you’ll ignore.

Guess who we’re really talking about here?

Yes. Me. (Surprise, surprise.)

That’s part of why it’s been quiet here on the blog. I’ve been moving through the infatuation and early-feedback stages for an idea I have. It’s a pretty big change, but I think if you’re among my perfect people, it will feel more like settling into a couch that’s got just the right amount of stuffing in the cushions.

Want to stay in the know?

I’m not sure exactly when I’ll be sharing these changes publicly (probably pretty soon), but if you join the Shmorian Society (using the form below), you’ll be sure to hear about it first.

As a thank you, you’ll also receive the 6-part Shmorian Project Prescription eCourse. If you and your project have lost that loving feeling, this will help you remember what you saw in each other to begin with. Hint: I’ve also been known to send out occasional treats.

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Note: If you don’t see a sign up form, or it looks garbled, you can click here to sign up.

I hope you’ll join me on this new phase of my business adventure!

6 thoughts on “The Fragility of Ideas

  1. Patty K

    Ooof. Negative feedback on shiny new ideas = tough. So glad to hear that you managed to find the upside of the situation – and to share it with us. This is *brilliant* advice!

    The idea of crafting products and services that specifically target your Right People and purposefully alienate others is one of those things that sounds smart and logical on paper – when the reality of actually doing it can be emotionally challenging.

    Last night I had a “not right” person sit in the front row of my workshop and scowl at me (when she wasn’t checking her watch) for 2 hours. To describe my feelings at end of the class as “discouraged” would be an understatement. That one bit of negativity cancelled out all the positive comments from the other 8 attendees. (I’ve since come to my senses, but it was a tough night!)

    Thanks for sharing your experience – I’m excited to hear about what you have coming up next!

  2. Alexis

    My biggest stumbling block has always been, oddly enough, my friends. They mean well and I love them to pieces, but friends are not necessarily your clients, and they’re almost certainly not your Right people. Well meaning advice about “how much money!!1!1!!” you charge is super deflating.

    Your questions are great – I tend to go into a tailspin when something like that happens, but of course it’s always better to take a step back before the teeth-gnashing and wailing starts.

    Super excited to see what you have up your sleeve!!

  3. JennyB

    This post made me giggle and grin and feel all kinds of warmth in my heart. Great piece, Victoria. You really nailed it!

  4. Victoria Post author

    @Patty – Oh noes! How awful to have a not-right person glaring at you during *your* workshop. WTF? And isn’t it amazing how one bit of negativity outweighs the positive comments? Where in the world do we learn that?

    @Alexis – Ugh…”well-meaning advice” is the worst. Especially when it’s for something you care about, and are having to stretch yourself to do in the first place.

    @Jenny – Glad you enjoyed it, Jenny!

  5. Jyotsna

    Sheesh — the World is so Full of Not-Right People (at so many levels) it’s not funny! Not everyone sparkles at offering critiques, you know. That negative feedback may simply mean that your idea is not right/great for THEM; ask them to move along!

    I now get quite clinical while analysing the feedback (good & bad both). I write down the people’s names on a set index cards, one name per card(or back of my old business cards) and feedback item on a separate set of cards. Then I literally toss the cards into different piles — Good (Useful even if negative), God Awful (Go away- you’re no use to me), Meh (Whatever). Yeees, I sort the people and the stuff they said. Works a charm (for my mood) every single time.

    @Patty — Yuk and double yuk! I’m never sure what to do with unpleasant or belligerent attendees. Haven’t quite worked out a way to toss them onto the rubbish heap. Yep– big emotional challenge.

  6. Kylie

    This is SUCH a great point, and definitely something I’ve learned to be true. (Through trial and error, of course.) The thing is, even though I technically “know” that certain people’s advice on certain things isn’t useful, I still sometimes ask for it. And I still usually want their approval. It’s so interesting to me that I’ve been socialized in a way that even if I know somebody totally isn’t a Right Person for me, I still crave their encouragement. Crazy.

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