As communicators, how often do we have to fight through situations where we already feel defeated? The good news is that those battles challenge us to grow and demand that we find the grit to make our ideas succeed.
This past March, I watched the prizefight for heavyweight boxing championship of the world between the “Bronze Bomber,” aka titleholder Deontay Wilder, and the ever-fearsome Luis “King Kong” Ortiz.
The stakes could not have been higher for these two modern-day gladiators. If Wilder won, he might get a once-in-a-lifetime shot at unifying the heavyweight division titles in a potential clash with British phenomenon Anthony Joshua. If Ortiz prevailed, he would become the first Cuban-born heavyweight champion of the world.
As a corporate communications professional, sports lover and storyteller, I saw a new communications metaphor in this engrossing pugilistic theater: Breakthrough ideas make us champions, and we have to fight for them.
Where persistence and insistence intersect, we also need grit to bring to fruition knockout ideas that can secure brand power, sell a point of view, create demand for products and services, or generate awareness of important internal and external initiatives. It can be a lonely, frustrating battle. You might be the only person in the room who sees the opportunity. But if you have the perseverance and wherewithal to make it happen, selling ideas will become much easier for you in the future.
Here are four ways to help make your ideas come out on top, so you can stand tall and answer the bell, round after round:
- Accept criticism. Your initial idea might need some fine-tuning. Allow that process to happen. Present your idea, and then accept feedback and constructive criticism. Let your doubters know that you appreciate their input and will address their suggestions to strengthen your idea. In boxing parlance, this early phase of the fight is known as your “feeling out” round. Criticism reveals what you might need to shore up or supplement, so that your idea has legs for the long run.
- Get someone in your corner. Find at least one influential person who is familiar with your thought processes and the work you produce every day — perhaps a mentor or supervisor. Convince him or her to support your idea.
A good person to have in your corner will understand what you’re trying to accomplish, provide objective advice throughout the ideation process, and evaluate soft spots in your detractors’ arguments that you can use to your advantage as you move your idea forward.
- Try new techniques. In the movie “Rocky II,” Mickey the boxing trainer helped Rocky Balboa increase his speed and agility by having him chase a chicken around a yard. To see your idea through, you might need to use different muscles, or try new techniques.
You might find that you can learn from and feed off the energy of others who have implemented similar ideas. When developing one of my own ideas, I find it helpful to secure the support of our PR agency, which has a proven track record of successfully deploying similar ideas for other clients. An idea that colleagues might find tenuous at first becomes more convincing when it’s backed up by case studies and quantifiable metrics.
- Weather the storm. By the seventh round of his fight with Ortiz, defeat — and a meeting between his face and the canvas boxing-ring floor — seemed near for Wilder. But it was this brush with possible failure that would be his defining moment as a champion. Wilder dug in, regained his composure and rallied to knock Ortiz out in the 10th round. With his comeback, Wilder personified grit. And you can, too.
Detractors will always find different angles from which to punch holes in your idea, even after you have addressed their concerns. Their mission is not to prove your idea wrong, but to validate their own opinions. These deflating “punches in bunches” are the hardest tests of your resolve and may force you to deploy a new strategy. To move your idea forward you might suggest a pilot project or tie the idea to a special event that helps get it off the ground. Just show that you are unwavering in your resolve to see your idea through to completion. And once your idea is implemented, showcase its results as soon as possible.
The most important thing to remember is to never let your idea go. Many great ideas have opportunities to resurface or be reimagined down the road.
People often say the proudest moments in their careers are when they succeeded despite no one believing in their idea or their ability to overcome obstacles. When you have a true winner of an idea, grit lets you achieve victories that others can’t. Find and embrace the ideas and passions that elevate the grit in you. And keep on fighting.