The desire for approval can be debilitating. It will slow you down and make you second guess everything that you do. It is something that simply must be shaken to make the moves you need to make to be truly successful.
As the youngest daughter of a dysfunctional family I am used to being told I don’t measure up. My mother was always quick to tell me what I did wrong. This is a terrible way to grow up but it did thicken my skin and teach me to rely on my own senses, which we all need to do if we’re going to succeed in life.
Who gets to decide whether you’re qualified to do what you do? In some cases there are legal requirements, licenses certification or a minimum level of training. But in many careers, especially in a fast changing entrepreneurial world—there are no prerequisites.
There is no “guru” licensing association. There are no “expert” exams to be taken to determine if someone is worthy of the title. This means anyone who tries to tag themselves with the “expert” badge is opening themselves up to judgment from peers. And this judgment can oftentimes be pretty harsh.
But does it really matter what others think? Sure, it would be great to have the accolades of our contemporaries but if it isn’t forthcoming, does that mean you should lay down your dreams and walk away? People pleasing is a thankless job. It’s my advice to not even bother.
If you have a vision for your future—go for it.
I’m not suggesting that you build your future in a vacuum and never seek out advice from respected sources. You need trusted people to bounce ideas with and receive constructive criticism from. Choose those who are several steps ahead on the path you would like to take, or if you’re breaking new ground, they should at least be in the same genre of business that you’re aiming for.
You’ll get the most from a mentoring relationship when your mentor shares your values. Do you know what your values are? Take some time to do some “values evaluation”. What do I value most? Is it family and friendship? Choose a mentor who places an equally high value on these things. Are you committed to socially responsible business ethics? Find a mentor who has built their business based on those principles.
Be careful to not pick too many mentors. You can talk to five successful business people and hear five different “keys to success”. If you pursue too many opinions at a time, you’ll get confused and have trouble applying what you learn.
When you hand pick special people and give them permission to speak into your life and comment upon your choices and plans—they are the opinions that matter. If you focus on this—all the other voices will be drowned out. Well, that’s not exactly true. You will hear them. But you don’t have to pay any attention to them, and frankly, they don’t have your best interests at heart anyways.
The pack will always hate to see one of their own break away. When you’re one of the many, the many will accept you. While you’re struggling, they’ll commiserate with you. When you fail, they will nod their heads and comfort you. But stand up and begin to stretch your wings—watch out. Begin to believe in yourself and actually make some moves to move beyond the many and you’re in trouble now.
All the sudden they’re all experts on whether you’re an expert.
There is always someone willing to remind you of where you came from. Maybe you’re doing what they wish they could do and they feel threatened. (Have you ever felt that way?) Maybe they feel that you’re moving on up before you’ve “done your time” in the trenches. Whatever the reasons, the commentary can be painful.
Everyone has to make a move to the next level at some point. Since there’s no cap and gown ceremony in your entrepreneurial future, only you can decide when that will be. So just go for it and let the negative go. (Make like a duck and let it roll off your back!)
Entrepreneurs cannot make their decisions by committee. There is no committee! It’s the you, you and you show! You have to make decisions quickly and stand behind them. Will you make mistakes? Yes! But that’s okay!
Go read a handful of successful biographies and you’ll read about lots of mistakes and outright failures in their lives. They didn’t let their mistakes keep them from trying again and neither should you.