Being hard-charging is generally a great characteristic for an entrepreneur. Being sure of yourself and pushing past repeated 'no's' are certainly essential skills if you dream of starting a business. But let's be honest, do you sometimes take your confidence in your ideas too far?
"I used to be a hothead. Whenever anyone said anything, I'd think of a way to disagree. I'd push back hard if something didn't fit my world-view," he confesses, kicking off the honest and refreshing post.
But he's a hothead no longer (at least most of the time). In the piece a reformed Fried tells the tale of how he learned to rein in his rush to criticize and the positive impact he thinks this transformation has had on his career. He credits this improvement in his character to designer Richard Saul Wurman who was a fellow speaker along with Fried at a conference some years ago.
Why you don't want to be a hothead
"After my talk Richard came up to introduce himself and compliment my talk. That was very generous of him," Fried writes. "And what did I do? I pushed back at him about the talk he gave. While he was making his points on stage, I was taking an inventory of the things I didn't agree with. And when presented with an opportunity to speak with him, I quickly pushed back at some of his ideas. I must have seemed like such an a**hole."
Besides being totally rude (and not a very promising networking technique), this sort of over-confident, over-aggressive behavior poses other significant challenges for entrepreneurs, according to Fried. Being a hothead is an idea -- and therefore a creativity -- killer.
"Ideas are fragile. They often start powerless. They're barely there, so easy to ignore or skip or miss. There are two things in this world that take no skill: 1. Spending other people's money and 2. Dismissing an idea," he explains. "Dismissing an idea is so easy because it doesn't involve any work. You can scoff at it. You can ignore it. You can puff some smoke at it. That's easy. The hard thing to do is protect it, think about it, let it marinate, explore it, riff on it, and try it. The right idea could start out life as the wrong idea."
"Just take five minutes."
Convinced that you might need to slow down your rush to judgement? Fried passes on the simple but powerful advice fthat Wurman offered him -- just take five minutes.
"He said 'Man, give it five minutes.' I asked him what he meant by that? He said, it's fine to disagree, it's fine to push back, it's great to have strong opinions and beliefs, but give my ideas some time to set in before you're sure you want to argue against them," Fried relates, adding that Wurman "was totally right."
There's a "difference between asking questions and pushing back... Pushing back means you already think you know. Asking questions means you want to know. Ask more questions," Fried advises. He concedes he still slips into his hothead ways occasionally but claims to have seen big benefits from pushing himself to pause and ask questions before he jumps in with judgement and objections.
Could you benefit from 'giving it five minutes' before you rush in with counter-arguments?