Last time, in our article titled “Your Idea is Dumb” we talked about how ideas are great, but others are terrible. We discussed how your critics can give valuable feedback, but they may also be naysayers who just can’t see the brilliance in your ideas.
What we surmised from this is that you need the ability to step back from your idea, and really try to determine whether the critics are correct or not.
Now, on the other side of this is an equally destructive force. This force is composed of people who are often called “yes men.” They are people who will stand by your side, cheer you on, and say things like:
- Your idea is brilliant!
- I should have thought of that!
- Do you ever get tired of being a genius?
But they just don’t have the courage or heart to tell you otherwise. I believe that “yes men” are more destructive than critics.
Why are “Yes Men” Dangerous & Destructive?
- Critics will prevent you from realizing possible gains.
- But, yes men will urge you, even if they think you have a bad idea.
From the above points, it seems like critics are worse, but think of it this way: critics may discourage you from investing in something that could have yielded you a 15% profit.
So, by following their advice, you missed out on a 15% increase in your investment, but you didn’t lose anything. “Yes men” however, would have agreed that buying Enron when the price was low was a good idea. Think of all the upside potential!
The problem with “yes men” is that you never know if they are telling you the truth! They might think it is a good idea, or they might think it is a terrible idea; but you’ll never know the truth. Critics can lose you potential profits, “yes men” can lose your principal.
Who Surrounds You?
Who do you surround yourself with? Are you thin-skinned and unable to take criticism, even if it is constructive? If you are, then chances are good that you’ve surrounded yourself with “yes men.” How do you know what kind of people surround you? Verify these things:
- Do you rarely receive critiques on your ideas?
- Have you failed at a good amount of things even though you are encouraged by everyone around you?
- Do people in your network encourage you, but never join in?
If you’ve answered yes to those questions, then you are surrounded by yes men. You’ll often see peoples’ true hearts when they need to open their wallets.
If they are hesitant to join in financially, then you know what their real opinion is. Now, the chances are better that you have a mixture of people, and this is healthy, but a network full of critics, or a network full of yes men can leave you in one of two states:
- Paralyzed by fear, and incapable of taking a risk
- or, you could be recklessly jumping on every opportunity and risk losing everything.
Side Note: Encouraging someone doesn’t make you a “yes man”, but encouraging someone because you don’t have the guts to tell them they’re wrong, or misguided does. Don’t be afraid to encourage someone if you truly believe they can succeed.
The Emperor Had No Clothes
A prime example of what I describe is a story called the Emperor’s New Clothes. If you haven’t read it, you should, but the basic synopsis goes like this:
An emperor hires two people to make him the finest clothes. They take his money but they don’t buy any supplies to make clothes, instead they use the finest invisible thread to make the clothing and only intelligent people will be able to see it. Needless to say, no person had the guts to tell the emperor that he was naked, until a child in the crowd declared “but he isn’t wearing anything at all!”
The emperor surrounded himself with “yes men.” Don’t do this to yourself. It might tickle your ears to hear so much agreement, but it ultimately leads down a path of destruction. Are you more like the emperor, blind to the truth; or are you more like the child and able to see the truth when everyone else puts on the blinders?