Why is it that, inherently, we care a lot about what others think of us? Keep reading—I promise this is connected to your work, your daily life, and your ability to thrive and be your best self, even on your worst days.
What if it really didn’t matter what your boss or employees thought of you? If you regularly chose to do what you believe to be the right decision and told yourself you were capable?
What if there was nothing anyone else could do today to hold you back, to limit your success? If you’re like me, or any other human with a pulse, at some point, you’ve probably (consciously or unconsciously) looked to other people around you for validation. It’s OK to be honest—we like it when other people believe in us.
Yet—that becomes very dangerous when we need others to believe in us BEFORE we act or for us to keep going when things get hard or complicated. Why? It’s simple—we each are unique, with distinctly different drives, imaginations, and ways of seeing the world. That’s what makes us so fascinating. Whenever we have a new idea, want to launch a new business, or develop a new innovation, it’s irrational to expect others to immediately tell us it’s an amazing idea or to provide the motivation we need to implement our idea—our dream—because, well, it’s your dream, not theirs.
As an outdoor enthusiast, when I do long hikes or backpacking trips, it’s normal for me to see a lot of people at the parking lot or trailhead and then run into more people at the Summit, where there is high energy—as we all celebrate each other’s success.
Last fall, I backpacked the highest peak in the Eastern United States—Mt. Mitchell, at an elevation of 6,684 feet (2,037 meters)—with my two kids, ages 6 and 10 at the time. There is a parking lot near the summit, accessible via the Blue Ridge Parkway. We emerged out of the dense spruce-fir forest after a lonely trek the day and night before and backcountry camping in 38 degree (Fahrenheit) weather the previous night, prior to completing the final 2 mile ascent to the summit that morning, where we met everyone else who drove there that morning, lattes in-hand.
Strangers literally asked if they could take pictures of us because they were so impressed with the kids carrying all their gear. But they didn’t see my 6-year old daughter the night before, crying, exhausted, with no shortcut to get to terrain that was flat enough for us to be able to pitch our tent.
If you look at my Instagram page, you’ll notice I have a lot more pictures of me on summits than trudging through the middle of the trail. Yet I would have never been on those summits if I didn’t train, prepare, start early, or kept going when it got incredibly hard (ran out of water, got pulled down by my dog and injured up while carrying 50 pounds on my back).
A summit moment would be equivalent to when the entrepreneur of a startup hits the milestone of an IPO, joined by other successful executives and business owners—or when a team member’s idea turns into a best-selling idea. Yet, you rarely hear about the long, dark nights for the entrepreneur, when she feels the odds are stacked against her, and she decides she would rather risk failure than risk not pursuing her dream. Remember, there’s a 100% chance of failure of your dream, idea, or innovation by not pursuing it.
“…there’s a 100% chance of failure of your dreams, idea, or innovation by not pursuing it.”
Likewise, you don’t hear about the fear or self-doubt your team-member faced when speaking up and offering his idea when it would require a significant departure from the existing strategy. The real success is being resilient when no one is looking and having the habit of moving forward when you’re alone and afraid. And that takes being comfortable with yourself, believing that you’re strong, capable and able to face anything that comes your way.
Once someone embraces herself, chooses to believe in herself and charges ahead with laser-sharp focus, after emerging from the wilderness, she will often be met with phrases like, “I knew you could do,:” or “great job!”
Yet only you can tell yourself those things in the wilderness stage. And that’s where true leaders and innovators are built—not on the mountaintop.
What would happen if you let go of all expectations of praise, encouragement or support from your boss, team-members, spouse or friends? What if you chose to truly support yourself and be your own greatest cheerleader? Nothing could hold you back.
Whether we like to hear it or not, it’s likely true that it’s not others holding you back, but rather yourself. I know it was true for me.
Free up the people around you from the expectation to tell you how awesome you are and instead, take ownership of your self-belief, and invite others to share in your joy when you reach your goals. This will be transformational for you—and this type of perspective also happens to be contagious—so you’ll be nudging others closer to their dreams as well!
Embracing your true self is not easy and taking the narrow, difficult trails that lead to greatness will require significant stamina and resilience. Although only you can make that decision, you can be encouraged by others who are making the same decision.
AdventureAngle exists so you can discover your best self and intentionally choose to do hard things and prove to your brain what you’re capable of so you’re ready when you’re faced with the unexpected. I invite you to follow @adventure.angle on Instagram for daily reminders and inspiration and explore www.adventureangle.com. You can join others who are choosing an adventurous path through our adventure-based group or one-on-one coaching, which will include you training for and completing a significant real-world challenge, while developing the mindset and self-confidence necessary to thrive in all other areas of your work and life. We also come alongside organizations to cultivate thriving, resilient employees and teams and help you gain a fresh perspective of your goals and purpose.
Perspective Changes Everything—Live Your Adventure Now.
Jonathan Moody is Founder & CEO of AdventureAngle. AdventureAngle brings the best from coaching, strategy and personal and team development, combined with the benefits of adventure-based challenges and experiences outside of daily life.