Why You Can’t Share Your Ideas With Just Anyone

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Lightbulb! By Matthew Wynn. CC2.0

Last year I became interested in buying a rental property and becoming a landlord. I was full of excitement and decided to share my great idea with my close friends and family. Their response was the opposite of what I was hoping for:

  • “I know a friend who’s a landlord and his tenants trashed the place!”
  • “I’ve heard it’s hard to get renters in this economy. You’ll probably have to pay the mortgage yourself.”
  • “You know you’ll have to keep track of everything, right? And think about how complicated the taxes will be!”

If my idea was a small fire, those around me snuffed it out.

In my discouragement, I wrote down a list of pros and cons and presented it to my friend, David. David was not only my original inspiration to by a rental property, he was always a great encourager. He knew how to throw kindling on ideas. This made him a fantastic person to talk with.

We sat in a Starbucks, and David looked at my list. One-by-one he addressed every con. He then paused and sat back.

“John, you can do this if you want. If you go for it, you’ll do great.”

It was as if David had more confidence in me that I had in myself. He believed that I could achieve whatever I wanted. He wasn’t ignorant – he knew I would face problems – he just trusted that I would figure everything out.  

I realized I had made a mistake. I wished I had not shared my idea with anyone and everyone. David agreed: sharing your ideas too quickly can be dangerous. Ideas are like trees. They grow up to be strong and nearly immovable, but they start out as a single stem.

David also cautioned me that a lot of people are not in the right place to share constructive advice. Most people are risk-averse and frequently struggle with pessimism. David quoted a real estate mogul whose book we had both been reading:

“Everyone can tell you the risk. An entrepreneur can see the reward.” – Robert Kiyosaki

Coming out of that experience, here are three ways I learned to keep your ideas from getting crushed:

  1. Take action on your ideas before sharing them. When you share ideas that are still in their infancy, they can be easily suffocated. Doing something about your ideas first will help cement them.
  2. Don’t share your ideas with just anyone. Ideally, share your ideas with someone who has already succeeded in the area that you want to succeed in. If that’s not possible, share your ideas with people who are positive and take risks. They will help you overcome your obstacles instead of telling you why you should give up.
  3. Use Naiveté. Don’t research so much when you first come up with an idea. While other people can easily discourage you, you might also discourage yourself by finding out too much about the road ahead. Only research enough to figure out how to get past what is directly in front of you.

If you find yourself in a position where other people are sharing their ideas with you, here are three strategies to help without discouraging them:

  1. Share your bad experiences as barriers that can be overcome. It’s natural to warn those around us if we see them headed down a hard path. Some people were worried for me because they had friends who tried to be landlords and went though a lot of problems. Instead of communicating, “don’t do this because it might be hard,” they could’ve said, “we know someone who has a lot of experience in this area and can tell you what to avoid!” See the difference?  
  2. Remember that everyone is different. Others will not necessarily fail or succeed where we have. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt.
  3. Have more confidence in other people than they have in themselves. My friend David still does this so well that it shocks me every time. His confidence helps step in and shoulder the weight while my confidence is still growing. 

In what areas of life have you tried to share an idea with someone only to be discouraged?

Where have you been the naysayer? Where have you discouraged people from taking action because of your own experiences?

What could your life look like if you were constantly taking action and encouraging others?

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