Have you ever been shot down? 

By Robbie MacCue

Have you ever felt like you’ve been shot down (not shot at)? You have an incredible idea for a new program or project and when you present your idea, you are told all the reasons why it won’t work?

  1. Consider your audience.  Many people are an automatic NO to new ideas; it’s just their default approach to life, avoiding change or seeing risk as dangerous. (Here’s a great resource for combating negative bias, especially in EMS.)
  2. How are you seeing your audience? Are you approaching the situation, knowing in your mind that you’re going to get a big NO? Consider how your expectation of the outcome influences your ability to convey your idea. Have you thought about possible objections and how you would handle them ahead of time?
  3. Realize, they’re just concerns. Most of the time, people’s automatic responses are just their concerns. We suggest you just get their concerns, really hear what they are saying. Keeping your responses simple, stay calm and collected.
  4. Resist the urge to resist. In other words, allow the objections to surface. The objections may be exactly what you need to handle or deal with in order for your idea to be successful. When President Kennedy declared a man on the moon in 10 years, the scientists vehemently objected. Those objections were pointing to what problems needed to get solved to successfully put a man on the moon.
  5. Don’t give up. Persistence does pay off. Having the tenacity and perseverance to see an idea to reality without getting frustrated. Acknowledge yourself for the small steps forward. As Lisa would always ask me, “How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time”. Change doesn’t have to happen over night, and it rarely does.

 “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”  ~ Arthur Schopenhauer

Either-Or vs. Yes AND mentality

Leaders and decision makers tend to approach ideas from an “either-or” mentality, i.e., things must be one way or the other and that you can’t have both options. The either-or mentality is very limiting and does not lend for out-of-the-box thinking. Consider instead a new approach, the Yes, AND mentality which fosters creative thinking and innovative solutions.  When in a conversation for new ideas people tend to get caught up and stopped in the “how” rather than talking about “what” they’d like. We are not advocating for being greedy or going beyond your means however there are many ways to make something work and have it all. One way to start is to talk about what you want or want more of as a group and put aside constraining thoughts such as “how to pay for it” or other circumstances.

Declaring what you want allows you to live into a created future, free of current or past constraints which is a very powerful strategy for producing unprecedented results.

More resources.

John Kotter, Emeritus Professor at Harvard Business School, wrote an incredible book “Buy-In: How to Stop Good Ideas from Getting Shot Down”.  He narrates the book using the story of a fictional town “Centerville” and someone who has to present a great idea in a public forum. The characters come to life as different personas you may encounter, such as Heidi Agenda or Pompus Meani.

Here is an interview about Professor Kotter’s book.

Your Turn…

What situations typically stop you from getting what you want? What is one take-away that you will apply when pitching your next idea? Did you try this out and get results? Please share in a comment below…


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Robbie MacCue

Robbie is the cofounder of the EMS Leadership Academy, host of the EMS Leadership Summit, and paramedic captain in Albany, NY where he serves in the Special Operations Division for ground rescue, flight, & tactical medicine. He performs international medical flights with North America's largest fixed wing Air Ambulance service. For more than 14 years, Robbie served as President of a non-profit EMS organization advocating for increased funding and raising the bar of excellence. In addition, Robbie is an American Heart Association advocate who is passionate about empowering others to save more lives. He has taught physicians, nurses, and other medical providers Advanced Cardiac Life Support at medical schools and hospitals throughout Manhattan. Robbie has undergraduate degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and a MBA from Case Western Reserve University and provides business consulting that combines his love of technology with healthcare.

Robbie MacCue

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