The BLG Blog

Posts & articles that have helped thousands build performance through pragmatic leadership.

Work With People Who Tell You To “Go To Hell”

That’s right. If someone hasn’t told you to “go to hell” in the last few months, something is probably wrong. Maybe not literally telling you to “go to hell” but you need people around you who have the courage to do so when all their options have been exhausted. You have to have people around you with the courage to stop you in your tracks.

You need people to challenge your ideas, test them, and make sure they are good. If not, you’ll be responsible for heading up a bunch of mediocre projects because no one in your office had the courage to tell you a poster-board presentation just wasn’t good enough. Why do you think the last Star Wars movies were dismal affairs? No one told George Lucas that his ideas were stale; instead he was allowed to create a sea of nonsensical characters.

If your idea faces little resistance it will automatically be weaker than the idea would be if it had that been debated. Conversation and criticisms help people refine, build, and strengthen their ideas so that the ideas will be able to stand independently once launched. Obstacles are only put in your path to test the strength of your ideas and your ambitions. Don’t let detours get you down– make them help you.

Before you present an idea to a group of people it’s essential that you detect any flaws in your argument so you know what the critics will say before they even think it.  Thinking your ideas through help you respond to your critics or fix any problems that did exist. It can be a trying process since it’s your idea and you may look at it like a mother looks at her trouble-making son and only see positives. Just don’t do it. You must, in William Faulkner’s words, “kill your darlings” in order to see your idea, your project, clearly. When you think your project is ready to leave its cradle–let objections and criticisms improve your idea.

Next time you are putting together a team make sure you take on at least one person who will be bold enough to poke holes in your ideas and plans. Make sure that someone can tell you to “go to hell.” The criticisms you receive might be superficial or trite, but the act of taking a break and thinking about every possible weakness will strengthen your ideas.

Well, maybe not “go to hell”, that might be over the top, but you get the idea–sometimes it’s important to be stopped in your tracks and while it’s important in making sure you produce it is also important in keeping you on the right track pragmatically and morally. Sometimes when you slip you must have people around you to audit what you do in order to make sure you do it right within acceptable parameters.



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