Find Something to Push Against

Don’t ever tell me that I can’t do something.

No wait.

Please go right ahead and tell me that.

You’ve done me a favor, actually, because I use it as fuel. Like an Olympic swimmer doing an elegant flip-turn against the side of the pool to propel myself forward faster. Like a NASA rocket pushing against the earth to break free of gravity.

There are a lot of people out there who will take delight in puncturing your newly laid plans. It’s your job to analyze whether the negative reaction is something you can use, or simply something you just need to stay away from.

“Those who say it can’t be done are usually interrupted by others doing it.” James Baldwin

History is full of stories about people who wouldn’t have made discoveries, wouldn’t have founded great companies, and wouldn’t have achieved success without the initial force of perceived impossibility.

How about these two young women who invented an invisible bike helmet because their professor said it couldn’t be done?

The Invisible Bicycle Helmet | Fredrik Gertten from Focus Forward Films on Vimeo.

Negativity Can Be Your Launching Pad

First, evaluate the source. Does the person know what they’re talking about? If they are pouring cold water on your idea, do they have expertise that means you need to listen to them? Are they simply being a Devil’s Advocate?

Second, examine the substance of the criticism. Is it something you already considered? Do you need to incorporate it into your plan? If the criticism is legitimate, use it to make your strategy even stronger.

If neither of these criteria are met, flick the negativity off your shoulder like dandruff.

Put this song in your earbuds: Fitz and the Tantrums “The Walker”

Get to work.

Visualize the goal ahead and leave the negativity in your rear view mirror. Propel yourself forward on the strength of your strategy, which has now been tested. You should thank your critic(s), because they have done you a valuable service. They have forced you to gut check.

Now you can fly.

Have you had an experience where you turned a “you can’t do that” into a “just watch me?”

Author’s Bio: Rosemary O’Neill is an insightful spirit who works for social strata — a top ten company to work for on the Internet . Check out the Social Strata blog. You can find Rosemary on Google+ and on Twitter as @rhogroupee


  1. says

    Liz, I love this! I have a number of these stories in my past. There are many among us I suspect that if you really don’t want them to do something, do not tell them they can’t do it. They will do it just to prove you wrong and prove to themselves that they won’t let their critics hold them back.



  2. says

    You are right. You have to evaluate the source of your criticism and decide if you should use it as fuel or inspiration or if you should just brush it off. Some people will put you down just to put you down. You don’t have to stay there. Enjoyed your article. Look forward to reading more.

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