Two weeks ago our Pastor’s message was based on the Book of Numbers in the Old Testament. Moses believed God wanted him to lead the people into Canaan. Before he moved forward Moses dispatched a scouting party to evaluate the situation and give him a report. The report was a mixed bag. Great resources but scary people. In spite of the risks, Moses decided to move forward. He believed it was what God wanted. However, the scouting party participants were certain disaster was ahead if Moses lead them in this direction. There were two completely different thoughts about the same opportunity.
As the week went on I kept looking over my notes. Then I saw something that startled me. If you read on to the next chapter it turns out that these men did not keep their thought to themselves. They made their opinions known to the entire congregation of Israel. What do you think happened? A fair and balanced discussion of the facts of the situation? The naysayers were actually influenced by the “can do” thinkers? Not.a.chance. Here are phrases recorded in Chapter 14:
…That night all the members of the community wept aloud… All the Israelites grumbled against Moses….If only we had died in Egypt….
Then words that I am sure brought great sadness to Moses’ heart…
…We should choose a different leader and go back to Egypt…
Let’s be clear. Egypt was no picnic. It was a land of torture and sorrow. A land where the people were crushed on a daily basis. Yet the mob had decided it was easier to go back.
As entrepreneurs, we constantly face a common problem – having to listen to people who think it can’t be done. The goal is too big. You are not capable. The idea or you, or both, will fail. It never is or feels like it’s just one person. It feels like it’s two, three, four… and before a project comes to life we often feel like we have a whole mob of people screaming with flaming torches held high – “Don’t do it fool! You will be such a humiliating failure.” Sometimes it’s really not a mob of thousands of people, it’s just how the naysayers sound in our mind. Negative voices become so loud that we feel fear, hopelessness and an impending, preordained outcome of failure. Our minds are trapped between the sound of the mob, and that still small voice inside that says, “this is the right opportunity, the right decision, and the right path. Stay on it and stay focused!” The question is, do we give in to the power of the mob? Do we retreat from our dream, or do we press forward? How much weight, if any, do we give to “the mob.”
Now a couple of thoughts about the mob. Sometimes a group, a mob, can become a source of inspiration. Re-watch the movies “Cool Runnings” or “Rudy” to see the power of a group encouraging someone on to success. We should all be so fortunate to have a chorus of people telling us “you can do it, your idea is a sure winner… go for it and don’t look back.”
I have found that in general that’s not the norm. People tend to be negative. I’m not sure if it’s a mix of jealousy, mean-spiritedness, or the thought that “I wish I had thought of it because my plan would have been better.” In the world in which we live people seem to always find the negative. I could give a million examples but just consider your conversations from any given day and see what I mean.
Even worse, if there are more than one negative voice around, they seem to find each other. Have you noticed that? Negative people seem to bond like models in a chemistry diagram. They get some type of weird joy in being linked with others who validate their “can’t do” opinion. Positive voices of possibility are usually trampled by loud negatives. Rational thought is replaced by heated emotion. The result is an overwhelming chorus of naysayers – sometimes real or sometimes just gathering in our head.
What happens? We “catch the thought!” We retreat, we cower, we allow God’s best to be replaced by a much less effective and influential plan. We begin to believe what we hear from the “mob.” As I look around I realize that many potential entrepreneurs I know are living lives of unfulfilled dreams because of the negative influence of the “mob.” As entrepreneurs we are responsible for creating our future. We are responsible for creating our own paycheck. We don’t get paid just for simply showing up. We are usually in a 100% commission situation. How many do you know that have given up on a dream, walked away from a calling, or just quit, because they allowed the mob to rule?
So here are eight E! Family thoughts that have helped me block out the sound of the mob:
*Begin your day with a solid, consistent routine that breathes life into what you believe God has called you to do. Whether you know it or not you already have a routine, it’s just a question as to whether it is purposeful and positive or haphazard and life sucking.
* Consider this question to frame your day – Am I a victim or am I a champion?
* Figure out what matters to you and what keeps you motivated. Associate your entrepreneurial dream to something you are passionate about. Building this will provide for my family or give me more time with my children or allow me to travel the world…. Associate your dream with a goal that moves your heart and it will keep your head motivated.
*Avoid the mob altogether. Look at your day. Are there times when you will be with one or more people that will drain your mind and spirit? You know the old game – put a plus or minus next to their name(s). People who will bury you with a list of reasons something cannot be done. AVOID IF POSSIBLE!
*Take control over what you have heard from the mob. Stop replaying those comments over and over in your mind. When the mob begins to get louder, find something that counteracts the voices. Listen to tapes, find a good mentor or surround yourself with a different mob. RUN!
*Get used to inching toward your goal with daily steps. Daily small wins seem to give the “mob” voices less time to take root and slow progress. On the flip side, when we take occasional large steps, when the victories are few and far between, we give more time for the negative voices to grow louder. The result is that we begin to wonder if a victory is possible.
*Help someone else. Who can you encourage and who can you help toward their dream? Don’t we all wish as entrepreneurs we had people who decided to take this step in our lives? Someone reaching out to help and tell us we can make it. Wouldn’t it be great to have five people like this? Many of you just thought, wouldn’t it be great to just have one?
*Keep a list of the victories on paper in front of you at all times or keep a picture on your screen saver. Have something right in front of you that visually shows you that you are making progress. The fear of possible future failure is often louder than the memory of past success.
I’d like to report that the mob in Moses’ situation turned around but they never did! If you read Numbers 14 and beyond you see the results and they weren’t pretty. But let’s learn from the past. The mob can dishearten, destroy, or defeat. If fact, I think secretly that may be their goal. But that doesn’t matter. Wondering will never advance your dream. Giving them one second of consideration will never move you closer to your goal. Ignore the mob. Go forward. Keep the dream in front of you. The mob will always be there screaming at you. Just make the choice to not listen.