Why you should have a little negativity around you

by Daniel Batten on February 21, 2010

Have you noticed that there is no shortage of people in the world prepared to “help” you by telling you why your projects will not work?

As I was growing up, I got my fair share of “wet blankets” thrown over the ideas I was passionate about. What comes to mind as you think of people you know who do this? It’s as if no matter what you want to do, they revel in telling you why it won’t work.

Most motivational speakers I’ve heard say the solution is to “avoid negative people”.  I have a contrarian view, because negative people are critical in your life. They can actually help you achieve your goals more quickly. But only if you apply the technique I suggest in this article.

Later in this article, I will disclose what this technique is, and how to use it. But first, have a look a small sample of my “wet blanket moments” to see if you can see parallels in your own life.

1. Employment: On leaving my job to set up my own company: “You’ll never earn as much again”

2. Relationship: On confiding in a friend that I was too controlling in my last relationship, “You should just get a person who as controlling as you to be your partner – so then you’ll be on the same page.”

3. Dreams: On sharing my business dream “There’s no point going into business because someone has always thought of the idea first”

4. Creativity: On daring to sing outside the shower “You shouldn’t sing, you don’t have a good voice”

5. Personal development: A well-meaning therapist “Your early experiences in life have damaged your ability to communicate: you’ll never truly overcome this”

6. Career: “Maybe you could go into presales one day, but I can’t ever see you doing sales”

7. Business “You’ll never get investment at the valuation you are seeking”, and “You’ll never get investment in less than 3 months”

8. Stepping out: My first ever attempt to do a standup comedy performance “Make it short because the person coming up after you is funny”

Did any of these moments sound similar to things I’m sure you were told at some stage? I believe that we all encounter the same sort of people and suggestions in life. What makes the difference is how we respond.

I am pleased to report that years later, I have a loving marriage, I sing in public (and in key) regularly, In 2000, my show “Childs Play” was called “hilarious” by TV 1, and the businesses worked out pretty well for me … especially the one that trains people in sales and communication skills.

So what happened?

What happened was each time a person delivered their “wet blanket” perspective I felt grateful. I thought  “Thank you for providing me with the motivation to prove to myself that this prediction is wrong!”

Each negative comment was a laser beam of motivation, focussing me on making sure that the opposite of each prediction occurred.

On the days where I might otherwise have given up on a goal, I remembered the negative prediction, and imagined how I would feel if I allowed that to become my destiny. That spurred me to new heights.

Each time you prove a negative prediction wrong, you change the world. It is not about going “ha, told you so” to people you prove wrong – it is about proving to yourself, to the wet-blanket giver, and to the whole world once again that the human potential is unlimited.

So do not avoid negative people. Hang out with them and hug each wet blanket you find. Remember that sprouts will thrive when placed on damp wool. Your ideas are those sprouts.

So welcome the wet blankets: while they are initially uncomfortable, see past this. Wet blankets will hydrate your ideas during the hot summer of discovery, then as the blanket dries out it will warm you through the long winter when you are executing your idea.

I am not saying “seek out and befriend 20 new wet blankets today”. I am saying that you will become more powerful if you are able to see the gift in what anyone says rather than being forced to try to avoid “negative people” – an approach that leads to

1. you judging people, which will slow down your own growth because judgmental thoughts come from the lower brain where you are wasting your time hanging out, and take you away from using your pre-frontal cortex (your creative genius centre)

2. less freedom, as you have now bound your piece-of-mind to the state-of-mind of those around you.

Being able to stay neutral and take a learning from any person no matter how positive or negative, intelligent or dull, and your AQ (acquisition intelligence) will be on a faster growth curve.

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PS: I use the term as a reference-point, but in reality there is no such thing as a “negative person”. There are just people who do not yet understand how truly unlimited your potential, and theirs, really is.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

juliet batten February 23, 2010 at 11:03 pm

Fantastic article; it made me laugh and is also true! You are following in the footsteps of your grandmother Emily who applied this very approach. She was told she’d be ‘a helpless cripple in a wheelchair’ if she didn’t follow the specialist’s orders to abort her next child and go to the arthritis hospital in Rotorua for several months of ‘rest cure’. She refused, chose to validate her love and devotion to her family, and never ended up in a wheel chair. Following her passion was the key to dealing with the pain of arthritis and having a fulfilling and wonderful life.

Richardo February 24, 2010 at 10:25 am

Dan, miss your voice. Text is great and you are ‘light’,as the Japanese say!!!!!
see you!!!

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