we all need someone to play devil’s advocate to succeed in business or life

Some people don’t like me very much…

I seem to have a talent for really pissing some people off.

I suppose it’s because I’m not one for mincing words.

While I do understand the importance of choosing my words carefully in business, in everyday life I tend to speak my mind.

And that gets me into trouble from time to time.

But maybe that’s to be expected.

Bill Cosby once said, “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”

As kids we’re often trying to please others. I know I did, until I finally realized how futile it was.

There will always be some people that love you, some that hate you and the rest somewhere in between.

I tend to polarize people. But that’s the way I like it, because at least then I know where I stand.

And despite what people might think, hate is a powerful emotion that can be harnessed.

The real danger is not having people hate you but rather feeling indifferent towards you.

So what does this have to do with success?

Well, at the core of any success is strong emotions. I’ve never met anyone who was successful that didn’t have strong feelings about something. Maybe it was to build quality housing and offices (Donald Trump). Maybe it was the frustration of dealing with the products on the market (Steve Jobs). Maybe it was to save their child (Augusto and Michaela Odone). Maybe it was free their nation (Gandhi). Or maybe it was to simply give their family the life free from financial difficulties (too many to name). Success is always rooted somewhere.

Successful people have a desire to achieve something and then set out to make it a reality.

So emotion does play a major role in anyone’s success and that includes more common goals such as getting into college, writing a book, creating a website or simply being in better shape.

The question we must constantly ask ourselves is, “How bad do we want it?”

Every successful person has wanted it badly enough to take the necessary action to achieve it.

They understand that there is a price that must be paid to achieve it. It may take many years of practice or study. It may take some sleepless nights. It might mean more time away from their family. Successful understand that the old adage is true, “No pain, no gain.”

So when I meet people and listen to their hopes and dreams for the future what I want to find out is just how bad they want it.

People talk a big game, but it’s their emotions that let them down most often.

Words are easy to fake, but real emotion is transparent.

And unfortunately, the truth is most people just don’t want it bad enough. That’s been my experience at least, but I’m sure you have come across more than your fair share of people who have big dreams but nothing to show for it.

They weren’t willing to make the sacrifices they needed to achieve their goals.

Some gave up before they even got to the starting line, while others may have started the race strong but just couldn’t keep it up. In the end, statistically speaking only about 5% make it.

I recently sat down with one client about a life-altering decision. While they might not be far along just yet, listening to them I could see the passion in the eyes. Their stories told me how dedicated they were to making their dreams a reality. And I know they will make it.

Which brings me to the topic of playing devil’s advocate.

Jim Rohn, the man I consider my mentor, once referred to influence as being “powerful…and subtle.” I found this profound because though I had seen it action for many years I’d never really thought about it before.

The fact of the matter is that most people seem to influenced heavily by the people around them namely family and friends, in one of two ways: very positively or extremely negatively.

When I hear clients telling me they can’t achieve their goals, upon doing a little digging I find that someone close to them has planted that idea in their head.

The same is true for those who are overly optimistic about achieving their goals.

The truth is anything is possible. I’ve seen people achieve amazing things and overcome incredible odds which is why I believe it’s important to play devil’s advocate.

Encouraging those who don’t believe it’s possible, and being somewhat of a killjoy when dealing with an unrealistic view of what it will take to succeed.

While everyone appreciates a helping hand when I seem to crush people’s dreams people don’t take it well.

I want to use their emotions to change them. I use hope to encourage the pessimistic people, and anger to get the most out of optimistic people.

But when I use anger I’m not just doing it because of the emotional charge but to prepare them for disappointment.

It can be a bitter pill to swallow for many people.

By giving them warnings I feel they are better prepared to deal with the realities of life. In the end, I want them to prove me wrong.

In either case, they might not have a snowball’s chance in hell of achieving their goals, but so what? Nothing makes me happier than seeing my clients achieve the goals they set for themselves. Regardless of what I say, or what I believe, deep down I do want them to succeed.

Each of us has different influences, different strengths and weaknesses, different triggers and different hopes and dreams.

A good coach understands this and uses it to their full advantage.

Adrian Shepherd

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