How Does a Leader Handle NO?

When you have an idea, you want to tell someone. When you believe the idea  is especially good, you may even be thinking about taking a new direction (in life or career). As you share the idea, the common answer is often NO!

Shining bright idea
Shining bright idea

Leaders who see more than the people around them and see things before the people around them are usually the ones who hear”no” more than anyone else around them. John Maxwell introduced me to this truth:

Leaders see more than those around them and they see things before the people around them. ~John Maxell

This is what encapsulates the idea of a leader having a VISION.  Studies have shown that regardless of age, gender, culture, or education, people who exhibit leadership ability have these two attributes. They see more and they see before.

It’s easy to comprehend the principle. Think of all of the titans of invention. The ideas they spawned represented thinking that was more than others had thought and before what others were thinking. e.g. Steve Jobs and the whole Apple legacy. Their insights change the world.

Yet much of the story goes untold. We usually never hear about all of the noes along the way.

Here’s a True Story

Rucci was born into a family of grape farmers but was always much more interested in mechanics and engines.

Rucci realized that the productivity of his farm would be far higher if he had a better, more reliable tractor. So he decided to build one.

Rucci's Tractor
Rucci’s Tractor

His tractor was so good that other farmers wanted one. Rucci’s tractor business grew quickly bringing him considerable wealth. So much so that Rucci treated himself to a very expensive sports car.

Although he loved his sports car, it frustrated Rucci, as he found the ride unnecessarily rough and the transmission unreliable. Given his expertise in building tractors which were reliable, robust and more comfortable than any other tractors, Rucci wrote to the owner of the luxury sports car firm offering his advice.

A few days later, Rucci received a very curt and dismissive reply from Enzo Ferrari telling him that he should keep his advice to himself and stick to building tractors.

Angered by Ferrari’s response, Ferruccio “Rucci” Lamborghini decided to grab his bull by the horns and design his own car.

The horse and the bull have been rivals ever since.

PS – The tractor in the photo is a Lamborghini tractor.[This story provided by Sunil Bali, visit his blog here]

What Happens After NO?

When someone tells you NO about your idea, what do you do? True leaders resort to their in-grown resilience. Assuming your idea is truly one of merit, the Leader within will rise to the challenge. Even if it means you are the only one who seems to believe in the idea, you forge ahead anyway.

Undaunting in the pursuit of the prize, that is how we make change, real change in the world. NO cannot be the last word.

Think about the last time someone told you no. What did you do? Did you give up or did you dig deeper?

According to Seth Godin, in his landmark book “[easyazon_link keywords=”Tribes” locale=”US” tag=”thredoth-20″]Tribes[/easyazon_link]”, change comes from the heretics in the world. While heretic sounds like a strong word, it really represents everything a change agent must become in order to effect change.

Leaders hold true to the compass within, even when the direction seems against the flow. Hang on to the conviction you have about your idea. Make a change.

Then I’ll see you later in the worldwide heretics club!

[reminder]What happened when someone told you NO?[/reminder]

Introducing the WHY.os. Learn YOUR why, how, and what that drives your passion and motivation.


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