Recently, I attended a meeting that had been convened to address an accessibility matter. Most of the people in the room appeared to be committed to finding a positive solution to the problem. Except for one person. I’ll call him Nate the Naysayer. I watched this dynamic unfold. Nate [not his real name] was working hard to be negative and was very good at it. It didn’t take long for the other meeting participants to get distracted from the reason we had come together.
Most of us have encountered naysayers in our professional and personal lives. These are the people who constantly say “no” to new ideas, strategies or approaches. Although I think constructive criticism can lead to innovation, the naysayer works at keeping a person or team from achieving their highest potential.
There are also people in our lives who I call “career” naysayers. In other words, it doesn’t matter what you do, these people will do their best to prevent you from pursuing your dreams to make a difference in the world.
Jessica Herrin, author of the book Find Your Extraordinary, tells us, “Naysayers will always exist, but you don’t have to let them sit in your front row.”
Throughout my life I have learned not to let the naysayers sit in my “front row.” Whether it was the doctor who thought I would be “a vegetable with limited potential” (I graduated from college with honours) or the educator who thought a course in entrepreneurial studies was a waste of my time (I celebrated 12 years in business this month), I have learned that naysayers try to stop possibilities from becoming realities. However, we don’t have to let them prevent us from achieving our vision, especially when it comes to creating accessible and inclusive communities.
I was remembering all this at the meeting on accessibility as Nate the Naysayer shot down every idea presented by the other participants. My brain kept shouting, “Do something!”
Finally, I started to spell on my communication board. “Nate, what are you worried about? Today we are here to find a solution, and I think it’s possible, but you seem to think otherwise.”
Nate immediately responded, “Any solution will be expensive and create a lot of work for me.”
“So,” I said, “We need to find an inexpensive solution that doesn’t make your life hell.”
”Pretty much,” he replied.
To make a long story (and meeting) short, we left the meeting room with an inexpensive, doable solution that created little work for Nate.
When we stay focused on the vision of creating an accessible and inclusive community, then the naysayers will be sidelined and … we rock!