As a leader, my problem always used to be with the "no people”. They are the people who can always give you fifteen thousand reasons why what you are proposing to do will not work, or is not worth trying. But, over the years, I have learnt to listen to them hard. Because then you get an insight into what you are up against.

I think the real skill is in separating out the good “no people” from the bad. The bad will sap your energy with their negativity. But the good will oppose and challenge you because it helps to build your momentum.

If you are lucky, you will find great “no people”. In the early years of Common Purpose, I used to go quite regularly to see Lord Darhendorf to pick his brains. He had been the Director of the London School of Economics when I was there. He was a clever man who knew how the world worked. I would tell him what I wanted to do; and he would tell me all the reasons why it would not work. Then, next time we met, I would tell him that it had worked. He would be utterly delighted and we would proceed to discuss the next undertaking. He was an invaluable source of understanding of risk and obstacles so that I could prepare to go over, under, around or right through them. 

You need “no people“ but not too many, and not too often. If you are not careful, they will frighten you and persuade you to give up. But if you find the right “no people” like Lord Darhendorf, they will want you to succeed and will actually take pleasure in being proved wrong.