Challenge Your Ideas

Ideas that pop into your head aren’t flawless from the beginning. In fact, to become great ideas, they will require a lot of refining. When seeking approval or validation for your ideas, it’s better to start with evaluating them yourself.

Get curious about your ideas

Ask questions and don’t be afraid to give honest answers

  • Where did this idea come from? What was the influence?
  • Why does it matter to you?
  • Can you see yourself attracted to this idea tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year?
  • What immediate or short-range benefits can come from this idea?
  • Is it easy or complicated to execute this idea?
  • How could this idea grow and develop further?
  • Which variations and alternatives could this idea have?
  • What are the pre-requirements to put this idea to work?
  • If it’s a product, has it already been made?
  • Is your variation any better than the existing alternatives?
  • Who else besides you would want this?

There’s a good chance that looking more deeply into an idea and asking questions about it will lead to the realization that it’s not worth investing further time and energy in it. Having your (at first glance) brilliant ideas invalidated sucks, but by admitting it, you’re practicing honesty with yourself, building confidence and strength to handle rejection, and being able to say no.

Seek external validation

If your idea passed the initial self-evaluation round, it gained strength and confidence through the process as well as more insights and refinements. For some ideas, this may be enough, especially if they’re more of personal kind. When keeping your ideas to yourself, you’re blocking out the opportunity to gain an alternative perspective of them, and notice aspects you wouldn’t come up with otherwise. It’s a closed safe bubble for your idea, where it doesn’t have to deal with doubts, questions, and challenges. But a safe bubble is not a place where an idea can grow and develop further.

The good mindset

Most people, after falling in love with their idea, will want to share it with others in the hopes of them falling in love with it as well and possibly admiring them for being such brilliant minds to come up with something so genius. Cue the fireworks and standing ovation, please, thank you. If the approval of others, no questions asked, is what you’re after, stop now! Not only is addictive, but it also damages your self-esteem, and confidence, and can cause mental issues from anxiety to depression because every now and then when seeking the approval of others, you will hear the opposite as well.

So, instead of going after appraisal and compliments, leave aside the emotions you have towards your idea, and share the idea with the goal of hearing others’ opinions, good or bad. When people question ideas, it’s actually a good sign, because it means they care. Giving criticism is a sign of honesty, just as when practicing self-evaluation. Think about it, when you’re sharing an idea with someone and they’ll only reply to you: “Wow! That sounds amazing!”. It leaves a bit of an impression that they probably have some more important stuff occupying their minds, doesn’t it?

You can want to improve and give yourself credit at the same time

Keeping an open mind towards criticism and suggestions for improvements doesn’t mean that the work you have done so far, should be put aside. All the confidence and trust you have for your idea is still there and it’s still worth acknowledgment. When sharing an idea someone tries to go after that and invalidate it, it’s not something you should be paying that much attention to. Challenging an idea out in the public and seeking validation for the work you have already put into it, are two different things. Of which the second is something you don’t need from the outside, you’ve already given it to yourself.

Dealing with negative feedback

There are three kinds of more or less negative feedback you may hear when sharing your ideas with others

Those who don’t agree

By not agreeing, I mean not agreeing at all, not just criticizing parts of the idea, making suggestions for improvements, and questioning certain aspects. Not everybody will always agree with you or like your ideas and choices and it’s perfectly ok. Becoming aware of it and learning to accept it is the key to a stress-free life where you don’t have to focus on trying to like everyone. It’s not possible and it shouldn’t be a goal for anyone. When someone doesn’t agree with you, it shouldn’t be something that you take personally. It’s just an indication that you’re two different people with different opinions and preferences. No additional emotions are required there and no feelings are hurt.

Those who have their own ideas

The most valuable feedback you can get is from those who take time to really think about your idea and go through a little self-evaluation process themselves, from their own perspective. These people see the potential benefits of your idea but also see the weak spots and aren’t afraid to bring them out and offer some changes of their own. Unless you will be working with them to bring the idea to life and they will become responsible for the outcome, it’s still your idea, your choices, and your responsibility with those choices. While keeping an open mind and trying to look at the idea from their perspective, the final decision is up to you whether or not and to what extent to use their feedback.

Those who want to invalidate your process

Then there are always the ones who not only disagree with your idea but will invest their energy into making a point of how ridiculous it was of you to come up with something as crap as that. Reminding you that you should be focusing on things that actually matter (according to them). Belittling the meaning behind your idea. These are the people who will try to make disagreement personal when it should be anything but that.

According to Dr. Karen Hall, validation is the “recognition and acceptance” of someone else’s experience. It is not about agreeing with someone or accepting their thoughts as your own; it is about being able to accept these thoughts and experiences as being valid for them. When someone tries to invalidate your idea and the process behind it, just let it go. It doesn’t align with your goals when putting your idea out there to challenge it.

If outside validation is your only source of nourishment, you’ll live a whole life in hunger