“Jim, why did you quit your job?”
“They didn’t listen to any of my suggestions! Their mind is so fixed and absolutely closed to new ideas!”
“So where are you heading now?”
“To a place where I can make a difference, where my ideas will be heard and accepted. I’m joining a startup!”
Does this conversation seem familiar to you? Have you ever heard someone use the “They didn’t accept my ideas” explanation for quitting their job?
The interesting thing is that after joining a startup or any other “more accepting” company, almost all these people still couldn’t push their ideas, introduce a new technology, new methodology or change an existing norm. Even in new places, their ideas were still not accepted.
So I suggest taking a better look and digging a bit deeper before any of your friends (or you) decide to quit their job because their companies didn’t accept their ideas.
Ask yourself, why couldn’t you really make a change and how come your ideas were not accepted?
Is your company always close to new ideas? Does it always deny new suggestions or changes to its norm? Does it still use tech from the 90's? Is your manager stupid (Sometimes it’s true. Sometimes your manager may be plain stupid. However, from my experience this is rare. So even if it’s true, I suggest you keep reading) or maybe the VP R&D or the CEO is a dick?
Probably not, moreover, I bet these companies and managers even encourage and expect employees to step up and suggest ideas. I bet they have mentorship programs and weekly one on ones where your manager probably talks to you about your ideas and suggestions. I bet some of them are part of your yearly goals.
So if you cannot make a change it is probably not because your company sucks, it is you who cannot explain your dreams, or didn’t do your homework before pitching your idea. Maybe you cannot answer questions or don’t have a proper execution plan. And maybe you simply don’t understand that now is just a bad timing.
After seeing it happen again and again, I’ve came to a conclusion:
In order to make a change and let your ideas and suggestions be accepted by others — you first need to train your “make ideas happen” muscle.
The “make ideas happen” muscle is what makes your dreams come true. The stronger it gets, the easier your ideas get accepted. Understanding your environment, how it works and how decisions are made is just one part of pushing your ideas. You also need to know who is in charge in the area you wish to change and who are the key players (the CEO, the team leader, the architect, etc.). How do you plan to present your idea? And many others aspects.
When your “make ideas happen” muscle is strong, you are able to answer these questions, build a plan and execute it in a way that no one can resist.
I bet that your manger is more than willing to teach you and help you in training this muscle.
Usually those who get their ideas denied, fail not because of their environment, but because their “make ideas happen” muscle is too weak. Unfortunately, most of them are not even aware of this muscle, so after hitting the fence they decide to do the only reasonable thing: leave their loving and ideas accepting environment that encourages them to make changes and suggest ideas and where their managers are willing to help them out.
They prefer to leave it for a different place, usually something small, you know where you can make a difference, like a small startup.
The startup environment is not their previous company environment. Those small startups are fighting for their lives so they will keep existing. The founders don’t have time for your “let’s move to angular” bullshit. They need to raise money and angular probably won’t help them.
Do you see the absurd: why do you think that you’ll be able to make a change in a startup environment when you couldn’t do it in an accepting and encouraging environment?
And surprise surprise, when we catch up after few months they tell me that they still find it hard to push their ideas and drive changes. Probably because the CEO is a dick. Again.
You are probably wondering, why would I call it a “muscle”? I think that everyone can make changes and push their ideas. It is not a gift. Getting your idea accepted is a result of a process that includes preparation, deep understanding of a problem and the way your idea solves it and many more factors. The better you understand all these factors and the more prepared you are, then more likely your idea will be accepted and will make a change. So, in order to become better in this process — you need to train yourself. You need to improve the muscle that is responsible for driving your ideas to reality.
I love to think of any idea that I wish to happen as a startup and myself as an entrepreneur inside a company. How can I prove that my idea is worth an investment? This state of mind helps me stay focused and treat my idea the way I’d treat my startup. We must remember though, only 1 of every 1000 startups actually succeeds. So it is OK if some of your ideas will be rejected. It just means that you need to pivot, and try again.
Here are some questions that you should have an answer to them for the next time you have an idea.
The more ideas you’ll make happen the stronger your muscle will get. With a strong “make ideas happen” muscle you’ll be able to drive change anywhere, in a big company, in a small startup and in your life.