Intellectual Stagnation

I was reading in the newspaper here in Sydney today a politically charged article where the person writing it took the position, “You don’t have to have the answers to challenge the status quo.”  We can ignore what the actual debate is about and skip past the politics, but we should really drill into this idea that it’s totally ok to “challenge” something but offer up no viable alternative.

I’m going to get slightly political for a minute – we’ve allowed an entire generation to grow up feeling like they are “special” and that their opinion, no matter how inane or poorly thought out, is valid and should be listened to.  We’ve engendered in this group a sense of entitlement where their “feelz” should always be considered irrespective of the consequences or practicality.

Now this same generation, feeling emboldened by just how accommodating we all are to their every whim and emotion feel as though now they can basically just stamp their foot, disagree with something because they don’t like how it makes them feel and never put anything forward by way of positive change or offering up any form of compromise solution.

They are utterly intransigent.

So what does this have to do with you and your business goals?

Quite a lot actually.

I see it all the time where people complain or criticise something they’ve seen in someone else’s business but offer up no suggestions.  They just bang on about how things make them feel without putting forward some meaningful alternative that encompasses anyone else’s well being other than their own.

Let me give you examples on both sides.

When I first started writing these daily emails 99 days ago, after about a week I got a few emails from people “in the industry” who promptly started telling me I was doing things wrong.  I should be sending out teasers, be writing these emails as blog posts and sending you to my blog instead.

I took the time on a few occasions to explain that these messages were about sharing value and offering up a bit of insight and entertainment to my email subscribers.  Selfishly, I said that I want to show enough expertise and thought leadership in the emails to make people want to join the Casual Marketer Monthly Newsletter.

I was told I was missing the point, I needed to drive traffic to my blog.

Their entire argument was intellectually stagnant.  Most of these “industry experts” had what could best be described as “flaccid” results of their own and they offered up nothing but cliches and rehashed nonsense that they’d read on the internet from some guru or other.

When you scratched the surface, the issue had more to do with their “feelz” than anything else.  For some reason, they resented getting my emails every day.  I find that hilarious because receiving an email is virtually free, they opted in to get the emails and it takes a fraction of a second to delete them if you’re not interested.  If you really want out, every single email has an opt-out.

Ultimately it came down to these people not “liking” getting an email every day from me irrespective of the quality of the content.  To justify their strange emotional attachment to not getting emails, they wrapped it in lame rhetoric in the form of an unsolicited suggestion.

In the end, one person who I’ve known for a number of years said it was “spam” and so I manually unsubscribed him and purged his contact record from ActiveCampaign.  This person suffers from intellectual stagnation in their own business, lurching from one copycat failure to the next – I’d woken up to the fact that the reason, ironically enough, for this individual’s failure was perfectly articulated in their own objections to what I was doing.  This person was unable to challenge themselves to do something outside the box and was failing because they couldn’t muster the intellectual spark required to innovate even a little bit.

Now conversely, I was involved in a conversation on Facebook where a number of pretty smart people challenged someone for the way that they were conducting their launch.  This person was doing the standard three prelaunch video launch that’s been done a million times.  The comments were pretty respectful and were asking why hadn’t this person tried something a little different.  Good suggestions were made and rational arguments were put forward.

The entire debate ended up with the person defending their launch with the ridiculously intellectually stagnant positions of, “It’s my launch, so I’ll do it my way” and “I have years of experience to support my decision.”

This person’s defence boiled down to the classic high brow position of, “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.”  Yes, the old “I’m right because reasons” counterargument was used.

Of course, this person made it worse by making a snide comment to Jeff Walker on Facebook saying that “some marketers” were saying launches didn’t work anymore.  This compounded my feeling that this individual was intellectually stagnant because nobody actually said anything of the sort.  His lame attempt to “appeal to a higher power” made him look stupid AND sycophantic – like the guy who makes a living from launches is going to say anything to the contrary.  It’s like asking the CEO of RJ Nabisco if their cigarettes are the best tasting and most smoother cigarettes on the market and expecting him to say, “Actually, while I think we make a good product, it also is highly addictive and can lead to cancer” – that’s just never going to happen.

The crux of this discussion really comes down to this – don’t be a dumb ass.  If you are going to critique something, at least put forward some positive suggestions to improve it and think beyond your personal space about the impact of what you’re suggesting.  If people offer you feedback about what you’re doing in your business, by all means, challenge them and test their assumptions, but don’t dismiss it out of hand because of how you feel!

You need to be intellectually curious to be successful not just in business but in life more generally.  You need to test the boundaries of what you know and accept as fact in order to grow.  Don’t be afraid of the occasional piece of criticism and take it as an opportunity to see how what you’re doing impacts other people – you should always embrace the chance to grow and improve!

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