Do you tend to give more weight to the opinions of people who doubt your ability to succeed? Or do you listen to your greatest supporters who are cheering you on?
There’s an old Asian proverb that says, “The nail that sticks out shall be hammered down.” In Australia, there is a phenomenon known as “tall poppy syndrome,” which happens when people are resented and “cut down” for their talents and achievements that distinguish them from their peers. And in the United States, we talk about how crabs in a bucket will pull each other down rather than allow any one crab to escape.
Beware of Dream Crushers
It seems to be human nature to criticize people who are improving and growing and achieving their goals—to cast negativity and doubt on those who are exceeding expectations. For example, you set a goal to get in shape. To run the race. To write the book. And when you do, certain people try to hammer you down, cut you down, or pull you down. Why? Maybe they feel small. Maybe they’re worried that you’ll outgrow them. Whatever the reason, we’ve all experienced it at one time or another.
I remember one particular instance when I allowed other people’s opinions to cause me to doubt myself to the point that I nearly abandoned my plans for starting a new business. It was a Sunday morning. I was 25 years old and had just decided to go all in on a network marketing opportunity. At church that day, I was making some small talk with a couple of acquaintances in the hallway.
“Hey, what’s going on with you?” they asked.
“Oh, I just started a little business,” I replied.
But as I told them more about my plans, instead of saying “good for you” or “good luck,” these two men started making fun of me. They were actually laughing at me.
“You think you’re going to be successful? You think you’re going to be a millionaire?” one quipped. “No one makes money at that.”
I stood there like a deer in the headlights. I wanted to grab all the words that I had just spoken, put them back in my mouth, and pretend that I never said anything. When I got home, it felt like a dark cloud was hanging over me. Maybe I shouldn’t do this. Maybe I’m not going to be good at this. Maybe I should quit. What am I doing?
Feeling defeated, I slumped into my recliner and took out my phone, only to discover that I had a text from the man who had brought me into the new business.
“You were born for this,” he said. “You’re going to be amazing.”
And it was almost like he breathed life into my dreams.
Listen to Those Who Believe in You
Other people’s opinions can be intimidating, and sometimes playing it safe can be tempting. After all, no one pays attention when you’re playing small. It’s safe, it’s comfortable, and no one makes fun of you. But as Nelson Mandela stated, “There is no passion in playing small—in settling for a life that is less than you are capable of living.”
A friend of mine once sat next to former U.S. president Ronald Reagan at a charity dinner in Washington D.C. After mustering some courage, he asked, “President Reagan, how did you become a two-term president of the United States?”
“You know,” he replied, “I listened to those who believed in me.”
Let’s follow the example of this great leader and listen to those who believe in us—those who encourage and support us. Likewise, let’s limit the power we give to the words of those who don’t.
Fail Your Way to Success
We’ve been taught our whole lives that failure is the worst thing that can happen. But when you start toward a goal, you’re going to literally fail your way to success. You will stumble, but even if you’re stumbling, you’re still moving forward. As New York Times best-selling author John C. Maxwell stated, “You either win or you learn.” And guess what? If you are learning, then you are winning! If you’re learning, you’re adapting and growing and improving.
So, don’t let other people’s opinions hold you back from your goal. It will probably be harder than you thought. It will probably take longer than you thought. But it will also probably be even more worth it than you thought.
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Learn more from Justin Prince at iamjustinprince.com.