This weekend I judged a choir competition in Boston. I really like the folks I work with and they always pair me with great judges who know their stuff. But I read Seth's post below about The Meeting Troll, and realized that there are "Idea Trolls" too.
My Troll this weekend was a judge from Stamford. While jovial on the outside, when I mentioned what we were doing with the theatre and the huge steps we are getting ready to make his first comment was "hmmm are you getting a lot of pushback from other arts folks there?". Not "Wow that is great" or something encouraging. Instead he immediately jumped to the negative and found a few reasons why it wouldn't work.
The post below talks about folks in a meeting, but I think you could apply it to any idea you throw out there. I find that I have become highly allergic to people who are negative now. People who throw out all the reasons something won't work. They always couch it in terms of "trying to be helpful" or some sort of "knowing" they have...but I find myself shutting off from those folks faster and faster now.
It's not rose colored glasses. It's relentlessly pursuing an idea that you know is right. It's not about your own reputation either, it's about the "work". What happens if we just say Yes? What happens if we move ahead with massive positive action and just ignore the negatives? Even if we fail (and learn from that and do it better the next time) is it any worse than not starting at all because we let the Idea Troll stop us in our tracks?
Here is a guide to figuring out if you have one of these in your life:
A field guide to the Meeting Troll- Seth Godin
The meeting troll is a common creature, one that morphs over time and is good at hiding (snaring you when it's too late to avoid him.)
- The meeting troll has a neverending list of reasonable objections. It's the length of the list that makes the objections unreasonable.
- The meeting troll never says 'we'. It's all about 'you.'
- The meeting troll doesn't actually want you to fail, but is establishing a trail so that if you do, he's off the hook.
- Despite his protestations about how much he hates meetings, the meeting troll actually thrives on them, because, after all, this is the only place he gets to do his best work. The very best way to extinguish the meeting troll is to extinguish meetings. The second best way is to not invite him.
- A key giveway: The meeting troll will use the phrase, "devil's advocate." More than once.
- Growth hackers look for a yes at every turn. The meeting troll thinks his job is to find the no.
- The meeting troll never eagerly calls a project meeting, nor does he bring refreshments, volunteer to organize follow up or encourage others to push their ideas even further. He's eager, though, to host the post mortem.
- One particularly noxious type of meeting troll says not a thing at the meeting. He uses body language and eye rolling to great advantage, though, and you can be sure that there will be quiet one-on-one undermining going on as soon as the meeting is over. The modern evolution of this is the instant messaging of snide remarks during the meeting.
- The meeting troll has a perfect memory for previous failures and complete amnesia when it comes to things that have worked.
- Analogies, particularly to vivid flameouts (regardless of how rare or irrelevant) is the easy tool for the amateur troll. He's also good at equating your desire to deal with negative change with the assertion that you somehow caused or were in favor of that negative change.
- Open-ended questions that merely hint at failure are sufficient for the experienced troll. He knows that he doesn't have to kill the new project for it to die. He just has to stir up sufficient unease.
- The meeting troll is afraid, not merely evil. Change is a threat, and trolling is his well-intentioned but erroneous response to the threat of change.