personal narrative

What if they don't like it?


One of the most challenging aspects of personal development is detaching from the need for validation from others. Of course, the double-edged sword is that high achievers can be driven to succeed through this take action/be rewarded cycle that we are taught from our earliest days. Some people have strong feelings about reward systems and whether or not we should use them. Personally, I don't think reward systems are inherently bad. When humans are young, using a system of rewards can help teach and reinforce in some powerful ways. The challenge is that once the lessons are learned, we continue to operate in that primitive way, long after it's outlived its usefulness.

Because we crave the approval of others, we can default to a mode of operation where we seek it at the expense of ourselves. Think of the person who continues to pursue climbing the ladder professionally, even if ascending the ladder creates more stress and overwhelm, less time with family, poorer health, etc. Why does this happen? Perhaps the story they tell themselves is that it's the price they pay (see the dread blog) in order to have the other things they want. Even worse, maybe it stems from believing there is no choice. That to stop ascending, to stop gaining reward through recognition, promotion, and more pay is the path to irrelevance.


Consider that for a moment. If you stop "ascending" in the framework of this very restrictive definition, you're irrelevant? All is for naught? Just because no one is tangibly reinforcing your value externally?

Dude. That's. Fucked. Up.

This is why it's so important that you know and appreciate your intrinsic value internally. I have to admit, as the date of my book launch draws closer, I'm starting to freak out a little bit. I wonder, "What if no one likes it?" When that thought pops up, I remind myself that I wrote this book for me. Because I felt called to do so. I accomplished something very personally important to me. I remind myself that I know it will provide value to others, which is my ultimate goal. And some people will hate it. And they'll let me know they hate it. I'll have to stay centered in my internal sense of self. I'll weather it and come out better off on the other side not despite of, but because of the test and having to make it through with my sense of self-worth intact no matter what anyone else says.

Are there areas of your life where you hold yourself back because you aren't sure people will like what you have to say, what you've created, or what you want to stop chasing? Identify those areas. Get clear on what you believe the consequences of taking/not taking action in those areas are. Identify when it's the reactions of others that have a strong influence on what you have prioritized. Then, start making decisions that are about YOU and not them.


The Unsettling Unknowns of Transition


We've all been there, in those strange periods of time when a change has been initiated but remains incomplete. Even if you have some vague notion of what is changing or how it's changing, the details are hidden. Maybe it's because the lack of transparency protects the process, or maybe it's because lack of transparency is part of the culture in which the change is happening. Either way, it can be unsettling. You know something will change but don't know whether you'll be directly affected. It could be that the change itself will be positive, but since there is no proof of that either way, you tend to stay in the land of unease, hoping for the best but skeptically doubting the outcome. 


Transition periods happen frequently in our professional experiences. Restructuring, downsizing, relocating, and reorganizing are all a part of doing business and keeping up with the needs of growth, clients, the industry, etc. But just because transition is a given doesn't mean that it's pleasant to be in suspension, waiting to see what will happen while fretting about the possibilities. The good news is that the fretting part is optional. A few adjustments to your mindset and your expectations can mean the difference between anxiously and impatiently waiting or calmly going about your business until what's done is done. 

Here are 3 things you can do to manage a transition period in a way that serves you. 

  1. Loosen your grip. You have no control over the outcome. How does it help to consider all of the worst case scenarios when you truly have no idea what's coming next? When you start to worry, remind yourself, out loud if you need to, that expending your energy on worry and anxiety has exactly zero impact on how things turn out. 

  2. Focus on what you can do. Until the change shows up, keep doing your thing. Sure, it may change, but it hasn't yet. Show up, be present, and tune in. What do you like about what you're doing? How can you capitalize on that during the period of uncertainty? Maybe you need to be deliberate about sprinkling in more fun or down time for yourself.  Don't talk yourself out of it because "Oh, it's all just so crazy right now - I can't possibly leave!" Actually, while everything is still what it is is the best time to make sure you're taking care of yourself. 

  3. Trust the process. Whether or not things go the way you want them to, they will go the way they need to, and ultimately it's for your benefit. This is by far one of the hardest things to do if your Type A and like to have an iron grip (see #1) so don't expect to nail this one quickly and easily. If you have to, mentally return to other periods of time when something went in a direction that you didn't anticipate and assess how it turned out. Was it ultimately fine, perhaps positive, even if you didn't initially think it would be? It's easy to fall prey to black and white, doom and gloom thinking. When those thoughts come up, repeat #1 and #2 and trust that thing are always working out for you.