I had the opportunity last night to speak with a woman at a gathering for a direct sales company I'm planning to join. We were discussing our various past endeavors as well as our excitement about the opportunity before us, and she kept mentioning the importance - for her - to do a lot of "self-development" work before she reached the next level in her business.
After a few moments of conversation I got the sense that she felt something was holding her back from reaching the success she wanted to achieve. She clearly understood the potential of the company, and believed in it, but there was a subconscious disconnect somewhere getting in her way.
Curious, I asked about this self-development work she'd referenced and it quickly became apparent that what she really was talking about was self-esteem, and long-held beliefs she couldn't seem to get past.
Hello, twin-separated-at-birth! (So say we all, eh?)
Do ANY of us have the self-esteem we SHOULD have?
What we came to realize as we chatted was that most of our hesitations about participating or succeeding in our endeavors didn't come from US. They came from friends, family, acquaintances - people who for one reason or another felt it their duty to "protect" us by offering their two cents about whatever we were planning to do. Usually negative.
Most of the people we could identify as having performed this "service" loved us and surely had our well-being at heart. But without realizing it they had actually sabotaged our self-esteem, and stomped all over our excitement at various points in our lives, leaving such a strong imprint that we still question ourselves and our abilities years (even decades) later.
Why would they do that? Here are the reasons I have come up with:
- Their realm of experience doesn't include what we're endeavoring to achieve, so they can't understand it
- They see failure as a character flaw, so they cannot let us fail (and the notion of our succeeding at something so unfamiliar is beyond their purview)
- They have a limited definition of the "type" of person who does this sort of thing, and can't see us as early versions of this type
- They are afraid to take this sort of step themselves, therefore it is too big a risk for anyone else to take
Notice anything? What all four reasons have in common is that they are all completely about the OTHER PERSON. They have nothing to do with US!
Their fears and insecurities get projected onto us and mingle with our own until suddenly we BELIEVE all that they believe! Our own voices get drowned out by a chorus of well-intentioned "shoulds."
But here's the truth:
- No one else knows what YOU can handle except YOU
- No one else knows how YOU define success except YOU
- No one else knows what YOU want out of the experience except YOU
So no one else's voice should ever be listened to over your own. You know your own heart and mind. You're a grown person who doesn't need to be told what to do unless you 1) ask, or 2) are about to step off the edge of a cliff or something, in which case, PLEASE intervene!
People will always offer you their opinions and advice, and you may even ask from time to time. But you're never obligated to follow advice - even when solicited - and you don't owe anyone any explanations. It's nice to know that people care, and you can certainly consider what those who do have to offer, but in the end it's your call.
Because you have to be true to YOURSELF in the end. You're allowed to take risks, you're allowed to fail (because you'll always learn something), and you're allowed to try again. And you're allowed to succeed. To be YOU to the fullest. Gloriously.
Have you let others' opinions color your beliefs or affect your actions? Tell me your stories!
IMAGE CREDIT: BRIAN SMITHSON