I remember when I first made the decision that I was going to get into this ‘motivational speaking thing’ and the day I told my parents. I remember it really clearly like it was yesterday, even though it’s now been nearly fifteen years ago. As I stood in the kitchen of the home I grew up in, I came home all excited and proudly announced to my parents “that I was going to travel the world and inspire tens of thousands of people to be the best version of themselves.” As I stood silently waiting for them to respond, sensing that they too were feeling my excitement, I waited with baited breath as to what they were going to say; “That’s a great idea, son, I know you will do really well,” or “Wow, that sounds exciting, tell us more!” But that wasn’t what I got! Instead, I got, “What do you want to do that for? Don’t be silly, you can’t do that.” It was definitely not the response I was looking for, but in truth, I wasn’t surprised. My parents have never been great risk takers so I wasn’t surprised by what they said. That moment, however, taught me a few lessons:
1. Sometimes it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission:
I’ve learnt that sometimes you’ve just got to go for it. You need to be willing to back yourself, and sometimes you can’t wait to get the go ahead or green light from everyone else, and if necessary, do some cleaning up afterwards. When I decided to move to London, I only told my parents after I bought the ticket.
I was tired of asking for permission from other people, so I started giving myself permission. I know there have been times in my life where I knew that if I asked to get permission from someone, I would never have made my move and missed out on opportunities. Be comfortable enough to know when you want something bad enough and go make it happen.
2. If you try and please everyone, you’ll please no one.
I guess it’s leftovers from my childhood, but just like most kids growing up, I wanted to be liked, I wanted to be the popular kid. As a result, I would find myself saying and doing things to please others, sometimes at my own expense.
Somehow this slipped into my adult life and at times I found myself saying or doing things so I could ‘fit in’ or be accepted. Of course, we all do this to some degree, but it shouldn’t be the determinant of our own values, goals, beliefs and life’s ambitions. On your path to success, you are going to upset some people along the way and this is pretty much inevitable. But that’s not to say that you go along deliberately trying to upset other people, but if you are wanting to achieve your personal goals it might mean saying no to other people’s agendas and that’s ok.
3. People’s opinions of you change all the time.
Worrying about what other people think about you is pointless. The main reason why is because people’s opinions of you change constantly. On any given day, my friends and colleagues can think I’m a genius (something I agree with) and then within 5 minutes, these same people can think I’m an idiot (something I also agree with, but not so much). I soon learnt that the only person’s opinion of me that mattered the most is my own. The only exception to this rule would be if you’re constantly getting ‘feedback’ from others that you’re a bit of a douche bag, then there might be something you need to look at about yourself. But, ultimately, remember as Dr. Suess says: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
4. Tell the right people at the right time what your plans are.
When you’re first starting out on something new, your sense of self-belief and confidence can be a little shaky. There can be a lot of uncertainty about a new path you’re forging, taking a bold leap in a new direction or contemplating a change in direction in your career or the many numerous decisions we need to make with no guarantee of the outcome. At those times, we need to share our concerns with people who are going support us, and not project their own fears onto you. That’s not to say that you surround yourself with people that are ‘yes’ people and agree with everything you say, but rather people who are going to give you their honest thoughts and opinions to help you make your bold move.
At the end of the day, the thing to consider is that this is your life and you only get one go at it. I personally feel that we spend way too much time being concerned about other people. We spend more time pleasing others than ourselves. Some people might argue the point and say, “Well, isn’t it selfish to put your own needs above everyone else’s?” My answer is no. What is selfish is not speaking up for the things that really matter to you. What is selfish is building up resentment to the people around you because you’re spending so much time walking around on eggshells trying to not upset everyone but yet expecting them to be mind readers about what your needs are.
Until next time Be Bold, Be Brave, Be YOU!
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