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Stop Asking People What They Think

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What do you think of this?

You do it, I do it, alot and lately I started to wonder why I bother. You know the moment. You just designed a webpage, or finished a report, or created a rocket company or took a photo and you turn to your friend, usually just 1, and ask them what they think. You're proud of your work, and you need it validated. So you fight that instinct, and you go for it. And normally, it doesn't end well. And here's why.

Normally, the reason that you show something off, or "ask an opinion" if you will, is because you yourself think it's amazing work. And you may be right. So the question is, if it's already amazing work, then why does it need to be validated? Answer me that, if you will. The best that you can hope for is a "Oh man, that's a great idea". Which, you already knew going into this scenario. The worst you can hope for is pretty much anything else.

More than likely you're setting yourself up to be disappointed, for a few reasons. For one, you're already up on your high horse, and the only place to go is down. Any opinion, or "improvement" idea will bring you down and make you feel like you've failed in life. I've been on both ends of this scenario many a time. Rarely do I find ideas "good". Which is more my problem than the other persons. I immediately start to analyze and to criticize in the hopes that they will take my advice, and turn it into "my" idea. Because I think in the end, that's what people want. They want to sneak their way into your idea so that it becomes "ours".

Our idea is not as fun

On the other end of the spectrum, I used to constantly ask friends and co-workers what they thought of my new website ideas. After I had secretly spent weeks working on them. And the result was always the same. Criticism and ways to improve it. Which of course, I attempted to do, only to realize that it stopped being fun working on this project. All of my original thoughts and sketches went out the window and were replaced with tattered concepts that more or less didn't fit together or make much sense.

And that's a big part of having a successful project. Not only that it works, but that it's fun enough for you to continue to work on it day in and day out for as long as it takes. As soon as it stops being fun, it's going to show.

It damages the idea

The main reason why I made it a conscious effort to go against this hu-man feeling was because as of late I've been enjoying my work much more. I made some health changes, and some sleeping lifestyle changes and the once overpowering sense of dread that each morning brought is now but gone. Instead replaced with a feeling of creativity. It's as if this long held veil was lifted off and I can finally get to work. And work I do.

Stop Asking People What They Think

With all this new work, that of course, brings that feeling of "I need to show this to someone, now". Which I do. And then I subtly weep to myself right after. Is it that my idea, that I've spent so much time and effort on is no good? Was I just living a lie all of these weeks? And that's where my biggest problem lies. In that it "damages" the original idea. It's injured and looking to bandage itself up with scraps and remnants from other people.

Stop Asking People What They Think

There are no "bad" ideas, per say

There is no "bad" idea, per say. Execution could be bad. Ignoring them could be bad. Changing them so much that they don't make sense anymore is bad. But any idea that's "new", to you, or to the world, is not a bad idea. If it existed, it wouldn't ruin lives, is what I'm trying to say. So the point isn't to know whether you have a great idea or not. The point is to make your idea great.

Some of the greats

For this, I always like to bring up one of my favorite comic book creators, Todd McFarlane. He's reached the highest levels of success in his field, and he doesn't stop. And I watch Todd's daily Facebook vids and feel inspired to continue doing what I do, making apps and websites and "grinding" if you will.

And I bring him up for one important reason. While now we know of Todd's amazing work, there were many many many people who didn't think so. I remember a picture I saw of Todd McFarlane, and the hundreds of rejection letters that he received. This one in fact.

Stop Asking People What They Think

Now some of you may say "Well, he's asking people's opinions now isn't he!". And the truth is he wasn't. He was looking for a job. He was looking to break into the field that he lived since childhood. He wasn't sending his artwork to his co-worker in the hopes of approval. He was sending them to the head of Marvel studios in the hope that someone would see what he saw. And eventually they did. I also recommend you read his post. It's a good tale of not giving up and such.

So build up your ideas. Collect them, modify them, grow them. And eventually you'll get to the point where you're emailing the head of some company in the hopes that they too see what you see.

So for now, my ideas stay my ideas. And you will get to see them one day. But not yet. Not yet. They're still growing and evolving and learning to be themselves. And it's still fun to work on each and every one of them. Adding that extra icon, or that added effect that makes it pop. Watching it grow weekly and monthly. I don't want to ask people what they think anymore. I want to show them why my ideas are great.

Walter Guevara is a software engineer, startup founder and currently teaches programming for a coding bootcamp. He is currently building things that don't yet exist.


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