I recently had the pleasure to hear an amazing person, Sunny Huang, speak. During the few minutes of her talk, she asked the audience a question. She asked, "if your child was a pianist performing on stage, would you let the negative opinion of those in the audience who didn't know about music bother you, or would you listen to the opinions of experts?" There is a rule which governs most of the world, you probably heard about it, it is the 20/80 rule, which states that 20% of the people make 80% of the noise. The negative words and opinions you get might seem overwhelming, but we are hardwired to listen to them more. However, when we realize that those are only the minority it puts it all into perspective. She followed up that question with the fact that people who know little of a subject criticize to bring you down, the experts criticize to build you up.
I used to do a lot of sports growing up, and compete a lot. But I chose when to compete very carefully, I remember for example, that I used to swim a lot. I got a great feeling when in grade 6 I won the gold medal for endurance swimming after swimming 2.5 kilometers straight. I also remember that I used to play tennis a lot, in fact, I had a tennis coach which coached me during the weekends under the scorching desert sun of Bahrain. He thought I was pretty good and urged me to go and compete, but my confidence was lacking at the time, and I refused. That is now one of my biggest regrets. I was scared of not being as good as he thought, I was scared that if I put myself out there and competed in front of hundreds of people, and failed, all eyes would be on me, and I would never have lived it down. I let the fear of failure pave the way for FOMO, or fear of missing out, over a decade later.
Success based on outcome?
I wasn't confident enough. I thought that confidence would come from what others thought about me. I thought if more people would tell me I was good enough, then I would have the confidence to go compete, and so I didn't listen to the opinion of the expert there. In hindsight, I think I would've done quite well actually, but that's beside the point. I realize now that with everything, the opinion of others, the praise that you get from other people, those are only temporary. The real bliss, happiness, and success come from within, when YOU tell YOURSELF that you're good.
I asked myself one day, why is it that success is found by the outcome? Why can't success be found through the process instead? With the outcome as the byproduct. Do you have to be rich to be successful, shouldn't richness come from success? As Sunny put it, "The path can be meaningful, and the setback can be motivating too!"
What do successful people do?
That's why after my last major set back I changed my mindset, I thought about what went wrong a lot and looked at what the successful people I knew did differently. I found that they didn't actually just work harder, in fact, I'm sure you can relate to this, some people didn't seem like they were working at all, it's almost like they were just naturally good at everything, and they were happy. I mean how can you not be when everything's going right, right? What was most striking was finding out that you didn't have to feel good, however, to do good. You can feel bad and still do good. Even when we don't want to do those things we know we should be doing, we can still get out there and give it our best, we can still make ourselves do it anyway! It's in those moments that we grow our confidence the most, in those moments we draw blessings into our lives.
After realizing this I started caring more about how I grew and got better, than what others say about me. When others talk you down, when they call you a prude, and lame when you decide to stay in and focus on your work or yourself instead of going out for a beer, then stay in! When people say you're trying too hard because you're trying something new, do it anyway! I was losing friendships because I needed to focus on what was right for me, do it anyway! You don't want to go to work today because yesterday you embarrassed yourself in that presentation? Do it anyway! What's more important? The whims of one day, or the future of your life? Or the few loud audience members, or the experts?
Easier Said Than Done
I know this is easier said than done, I've been there many times too and I also didn't listen to myself all of the time. But in the journey for growth, we don't want to choose the path that's easier.
In a world where all eyes are on you, you can't let the opinions of others bring you down, instead, we can continue to grow and continue to make a difference because we're giving it our best.
This is why I made the Do It Anyway! Worksheet. To remind ourselves to give it our very best at the worst of times with just three simple words.
Download it here
How does it work? Simple.
1. Think about three things you have to get done, tasks if you will, they can be anything, big or small.
2. If this is something long term, a means to achieve a specific destination, write down what that destination is. What is the goal of the task? If there isn't a specific goal like if you have to do this for work, that's fine, you can skip it.
3. Now write down your why. Why is this important to you? These are your top most important tasks, why? Why do you have to do it, what will you gain? This is ultimately what will keep you on track.
4. Under the "BUT" section write down your biggest challenges. 5 of them, five reasons why you really don't want to do these things. And remember, the bigger these challenges, the greater effect it will have.
5. Now next to each one of these challenges write exactly this: Do It Anyway! Feel these words as you write them, understand what they mean, why you came all the way to those few lines and decided to write them. Take them in as if you're saying them.
6. Lastly, pin them up on your wall. Don't let yourself forget to give it your very best!
Thank you for tuning in to one of my first blog posts, there will be many more to come, but everyone has to start somewhere. Let me know what you thought of this article, what did you learn from this? What can I change about it? What did you really like, and what can I improve in the future?
Hi, I'm Matthew, my mission is to spread knowledge about motivation, productivity, and enabling people to achieve the best that they can be! I have a vast background in psychology and a passion for self-improvement. I literally can't remember a time when I didn't have a psychology book in my hands. On top of that, I've traveled around the world from a very young age, and seen many different courses of life, forming friendships with highly successful people, as well as people who are willing to do anything to make ends meet. My own life took me down a roller coaster of highs and lows, and I'm forever grateful that I've been able to overcome everything it threw at me. Now I want to take the opportunity to give back, and help others learn tools and methods for becoming who they were born to be!