Saying ‘yes’ all the time is not a desirable trait and neither is saying ‘no’. However, as creative individuals, we have to stand firm on our ground and disagree when necessary.
When you do something new, creative, a new innovation, everyone around you will think you are crazy. People will think you are crazy, that you are committing career suicide with your innovation. People will find many reasons why your innovation will not work.
What do creative people do when they are faced with this universal ridicule and disdain from their peers? Nothing, they do nothing.
Creative people do nothing in response to criticism, they don’t care, they continue with their creative work in the face universal ridicule. They care less about what other people think, people’s criticisms has zero effect on them.
The word used to describe such a person is disagreeable. I don’t mean that as a synonym for obnoxious. Disagreeable is the term that physiologists use to describe people who do not require the approval of their peers to do what they think is correct.
When you look at entrepreneurs as a group and you analyse their personality, what you will discover is that entrepreneurs are people who are deeply disagreeable.
Its not enough to have a great idea, and the focus and discipline to see it to fruition, you must have the strength, the resolve and the courage to pursue that idea even when the rest of the world thinks you are insane.
Time and time again if you look at the stories of extraordinarily important entrepreneurs, there is almost always a moment when they are the only ones who believed in the value of what they are doing.
It takes courage and grit to say no to a client, or a boss and to produce work that is really meaningful and has value. But it is also often too easy to give in to pressure, to fit in and produce mediocre work that we have no belief in.
It is very hard to be disagreeable. As human beings we are hard wired to want the approval of our peers. In Blink, Malcolm Gladwell shares the story of this guy (John Gottman). John would videotape couples and he can predict with 95 percent accuracy whether that couple will still be married fifteen years later. Just reading the emotions on their face, he would be able tell that.
One of John Gottman’s big points is that if you see contempt on the face of either or both of the partners in the relationship, that relationship is doomed. Why? because contempt is the emotion of exclusion, its the emotion of “I can’t even deal with you anymore.” The minute we see that in our partner, we are finished. The relationship is over. We can’t deal with that kind of rejection, we leave.
That’s how deeply the desire to be wanted and to be approved by others is part of our DNA. But successful entrepreneurs and creatives have that unique ability to stand up in the face of ridicule and just shrug it off.
Successful entrepreneurs have the courage of their convictions. They don’t need the approval of others.
I believes that it is important to be disagreeable if you want to produce work that matters. But the reason we disagree should not be because we side with our internal resistance to not doing work that needs to be done. Instead, it should be of service of the client or the boss so that we achieve more desired results. Results that we care about, results that matters and results that we would be honoured to call art.
We are not going to tranform the world and do work that matters if we fit in. Fit in enough, you become invisible.