"What if" you weren't so negative?

Have you ever had a great idea, or thought of something awesome, and you started telling other people your idea, and they just start to shoot it down? They start to ask “What if it doesn’t work?”, or “What if people hate it?” or “What if you run out of money”, etc?

I had a great conversation earlier this week with someone who mirrored my sentiment towards these questions: What if, instead of thinking everything was going to fail, you thought it was going to be awesome? Even more amazing than you are thinking now? What if everyone loves it? What if it works so well you can grow a hugely successful business? What if you make so much money you can give back and make an impact in other areas?

I’m not saying to become a blind optimist, or to cover your ears singing “na na na na” to shut out challenges. Being overly optimistic all the time can be just as dangerous as being negative. (Do you remember the Black Knight from Monty Python who considered all his limbs being removed "simply a flesh wound"?)

When people start to play the “what if” game (negatively), answer the questions but challenge them to answer your own positive ones. Balance it out. Paint the whole picture. Be prepared for both what if scenarios— the ones where the idea isn’t exactly what you wanted, and the ones where it’s a runaway success.

This gets to something I deeply believe in: Plan for the success. Build your company around hitting all those positive milestones, and you’ll start to find that you will. You’ll look for more opportunity to make those milestones possible, and you’ll be more open to conversations, introductions, ideas and everything else needed to make you a huge success. If instead you carry around a “Negative Roadmap”, you’ll just start marching towards your own failure. You’ll end up closing up shop and saying: See, I knew this was never going to work. And you’ll be absolutely right: Since you felt it wasn’t going to, then it never even had a fighting chance.