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I'm well glad I found Gladwell. Or, how to turn frustration into action.

image credit:  nj dodge

I was rushing about the other day, busy trying to meet three deadlines that, like people turning up unexpectedly for tea, all seem to come at once.  So I stopped for a moment to take a breather, looked in a bookshop window and there was Malcom Gladwell's "Outliers".  Half price.  Fantastic. 

When my deadlines where met,  I sat in a sunny spot and started reading. 

Opening the book, the first idea to hit me had nothing to do with Mr. Gladwell's writing.  No, it was the stuff printed on the last page, a little introduction to the story behind Penguin, the book's publisher. 

Not everyone can see what we see.

You know when you have a passion for something?  When you can see how that thing would benefit or interest others?  How it could help make things quicker, easier, more sustainable, less expensive, kinder, just better?  Then, you look at the people already doing that thing or similar, what they provide, how they provide it, what value they give? 

You approach them with your idea. You show them the possibilities. You help them see how your passions, talents, and ideas could improve things for everyone. 

Itís a no-brainer.  Everyone could win.

But those people just don't get it!  Or, they say they do, then they ignore you and keep things as they are. 
A few weeks ago someone I've worked with before asked for ideas to help a tired media project, which I believe still has massive potential, if done right.  I suggested some things, based on my experience and feedback from people in the know, that would be killer moves.  But no one's yet bothered to come back to me.  I've been watching their project.  They're doing the same old things and they're going down.

Does that make you frustrated?  It does me! - but only if we let it! 

When you care about something and think you can make a great contribution to a win-win arrangement, it can be frustrating when the decision makers don't accept your help, don't let you work with them, shut you out.

You can see how helping them could open up possibilities for everyone, but they're simply not going for it.
Just before I picked up Outliers, I was feeling a bit sad those former colleagues hadn't taken me up on my unbelievably good, extraordinarily generous offer of help.  I'd love to be a part of the things they're doing, but only if they let me help them craft it into something I think people actually want, something that's good value, that matters.  I haven't yet got the resources to build a system like theirs, but if I did, I'm sure I could make it work much better than it is at the moment.

Like me, I bet you have ideas about how your strengths and talents could help others, if only they'd give you a chance to work with them on their project.

But we don't need them to give us a chance!

Allen Lane was waiting for a train and wanted a decent book to read.  That was back in 1935 and all he could find were the same old popular magazines and poor quality paperbacks - the same choice faced each day by most readers, except for a tiny number who could afford hardbacks.   But the publisher's disappointment and frustration soon turned to action, and led him to found a company - Penguin Books.

The low cost, widely available, quality paperback had arrived, and would change the world of books.

Lane didn't rely on getting the approval of an existing publisher.  He set up his own thing to realise his vision for low cost paperbacks.

I'm not saying setting up a new company or project or organisation is always the best thing to do, but sometimes we just need to stop seeking approval, and go and make something new happen.

That's why I'm well glad I stumbled upon Gladwell!  Sometimes, we just need a little inspiration.

I'm enjoying reading Outliers, but I'm glad I spotted that little page about Penguin, tucked away right at the back, cos it was just the reminder I needed.
So if you're feeling a bit frustrated that people you think could benefit from your good ideas just aren't getting it, these tips will help you as they help me:

  1. Believe there are many ways we could make our ideas come alive, not just through the particular thing that's grabbed our attention just now.  More options are almost always just a few thoughts away.
  2. Remember that through the global technology and communications revolution gathering pace right now, we're probably better placed today, than at any other time in history, to find amazing people to work with to make our visions, and theirs, come true.
  3. It is unlikely one person or organisation is ever our only option.  Sometimes it feels that way, and I've thought I've been there so many times.  But there are many people/projects/organisations that could be just what we need.
  4. Lets tell ourselves often, that almost all great ideas/talents/possibilities were initially rejected, so why should our stuff be any different?  Sometimes we just have to take Dan Pink's word for it: "persistence trumps talent".
  5. Build up resources we can use (blogs, books, videos, people, conferences) to give ourselves an inspirational boost when we need one i.e. when things are hard.  The more we keep our mind on the fact that others, many of whom faced greater obstacles that us, eventually pushed through and made good stuff happen, the more productive we'll be.
  6. Much of what we think is massively frustrating and important right now won't matter in a year.
  7. Put things into a much bigger picture.  If we want to help build a better, more sustainable world, then we are part of something much bigger than just the immediate project or idea we want to make happen right now.  Have a sense of meaning and purpose and let's do our best to give things their proper perspective.

I'd love to know if you find these ideas helpful, and if you have particular things that help you move out of frustration, and into action.  Hope to see you in the comments.

Your comments:

Jeevan singh thakur says:
29/05/2011 17:32:24

Sir, You realy brilliant, lots of ideas are helpfull and improve the thinking power, its a brilliant for me. Thanks & regards Jeevan
Mags says:
09/09/2009 22:24:28

I spent a lot of my time working in the Corporate world being really frustrated that they 'just didn't get it' and feeling that I was definately wired differently! You also see your ideas implemented way down the line so many of the tips resonate with me. The ideas are really helpfull as is you common sense approach. Thank you. Gladwell is brilliant, I also enjoyed 'The Tipping Point'. You can follow him on Twitter but he doesn't Tweet often...


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  • Ian AspinLocation: Lancaster Lake District, UK
  • Bio: I’m passionate about my work:TV journalist, producer, presenter, business ideas person. I care about: family, friends, helping people, finding meaning, running