The other day a good friend of mine from Mexico and I were having a conversation about future plans and what entreneurial ideas we have. Let’s call him Juan. He got to share about a culturally focused project where youngsters would be encouraged to open up to new cultures and would learn new languages. He was keeping it focused to particular languages as apparently those are in high demand in his city back in Mexico.
As Juan was sharing his ideas, and how his friends from back home were encouraging him to go for it, being ready to help him and put their shoulder to make this idea succeed, my thoughts were rolling down: “Basically he is speaking about a language school were obviously you’re making people open up to new cultures. What’s so innovative and cool about it? Is he even sure such a thing doesn’t already exist in the market?”. He went on and on, very enthusiastic about the idea and having a big smile on his face just thinking about it; I just smiled back still having a loud discussion with myself upon what he was sharing.
He kept on listing benefits and snaps of how he imagines things developing, being all excited about it, and the next moment it stroke me: why am I not looking at his idea as a starting point? Why don’t I try to look at it as an opportunity and maybe solution for a local need? Why I am not trying to encourage him and maybe help him make it happen? I have no expertise in the area, no knowledge of the local market, no reference point of what it means a language school, yet my first thoughts are against his idea and almost instinctively I wanted to kill it.
I wouldn’t want to generalize, but I guess I am doing it anyway. After living several years outside of Europe, I notice that we Europeans especially the East-Europeans are very good analyzers and critiques, very opinion driven and quite sharp in expressing our disagreements. Before looking at the positives, there will be 100 defects and faults pointed out, before talking about an idea, there will be endless debates about why it won’t work.
This is why Juan’s idea most probably will succeed in Mexico, or at least it will be a hell of a ride for him and his friends who’d help out. They will enjoy the experience regardless its outcome and would have a great story to tell. This is why his idea would most probably never see the daylight in East-Europe because even before making any move to implement it, his friends will find all the reasons in the world why it won’t work, and he’ll eventually give up.
Do you know the story of the deaf frog? The one that was racing up a hill along with other frogs at which everyone was screaming and shouting, discouraging them, saying they won’t make it until the finish line, that it’s impossible to win the race. The frogs were getting out of the competition one by one. Definitely the “supporters” were not that helpful. But our little one frog surprisingly made it until the end. All were shocked, how did it make it? How did it succeed? It’s because the frog couldn’t hear any of the mean comments and just kept focused towards the find goal.
When the environment doesn’t help, it’s helpful to be a deaf frog and just focus on fulfilling your dreams. Full speed.
And good luck Juan, make us proud!