Why Being on the Cutting-Edge Is Worth Every Obstacle and Rejection

Larry Alton

June 27, 2018

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Mahatma Gandhi said, "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."

It's never easy being on the cutting-edge. When you're ahead of your time, some people either don't understand what you're up to or they think your idea will never work. Sometimes they think you're insane.

Challenging the popular view—even when you're right—is the fastest way to be ridiculed, ostracized, and, in old times, burned at the stake.

It's tough facing scrutiny and rejection for challenging the status quo, but here's why you should see your vision all the way through.

You Will Be an Inspiration & Empower Others

By pursuing your cutting-edge idea, dream, or vision, you're going to inspire others to do the same; there's no way around it. Witnessing others who have the courage to stand up for what they believe in is inspiring. Courage is contagious.

Someone had the vision to put automated, external defibrillators on airplanes, and they've been saving people's lives ever since. One flight attendant's life was saved with an AED just weeks after they were installed on all Delta Airlines planes. When word spread, other airlines quickly followed suit.

You Will Be a Hero to Others

Somebody somewhere—perhaps even a nation—is counting on the work you're doing now. Your vision has the potential to make a big difference in people's lives. If you allow obstacles and rejection to deter you, you'll be letting those people down.

Martin Luther King Jr. was committed to his vision and unconcerned with the possible consequences. He fought endlessly to support the civil rights of millions of African Americans who couldn't have led the fight alone. He was largely successful, and in 1964, he became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

You Will Change People's Minds

All trailblazers face the difficult task of changing people's minds to move their visions forward. Often, in the beginning, people won't understand what you're up to because it doesn't match what they already know and believe. If you're going to change people's minds, you've got to keep pursuing your vision.

For the Figi family, pursuing their controversial vision was a life or death matter for their daughter, Charlotte. Born with a rare form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome, by the time Charlotte was six, she experienced 300 seizures each week. She couldn't move, talk, or eat. Her parents felt helpless, yet were determined to get her well.

The Figi family eventually sought a doctor who would admit Charlotte into a medical cannabis program but was continually rejected because of Charlotte's young age. Nobody wanted to be the first to prescribe medical cannabis to a young child. However, their refusal to give up paid off when they found a doctor willing to help.

They found a strain high in CBD that nearly eliminated Charlotte's seizures. However, their story doesn't end there; the strain of cannabis the Figi family had been turning into oil for Charlotte was in limited supply, as it wasn't a popular strain due to its low THC content. They ended up working with the growers, and today, that high CBD/low THC strain is named "Charlotte's Web" and is used by thousands of people worldwide.

Charlotte's parents changed the world's mind about medicinal cannabis. Many doctors are no longer afraid to prescribe CBD oils to young children as the healing benefits are crystal clear. Because of their perseverance, sick people all over the world have access to an effective, alternative treatment for severe symptoms.

It Helps to Focus on Others

When things get rough, move your attention off yourself and onto others. Think about the people you're going to help by launching your dream into the world. Consider the people you're going to inspire with your story.

Don't be afraid to face the uncertainty of how everything will turn out. Don't get caught up worrying about who's going to reject or ridicule you. Remember: hundreds of successful business people were rejected early on in their careers. Rejection is a sign you're doing something right and shaking up the status quo.

When people get uncomfortable, the next step is a breakthrough.

Imagine setbacks and criticism are signs you're on the right track. Seeing things this way is not making lemonade out of lemons; it's accepting that sometimes, lemons come with stems and leaves you have to shake off before taking a bite.

Larry is an independent business consultant specializing in tech, social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.

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