Our world has seen a proliferation of commentators, and while the number of creators has increased, it’s not at quite the same pace. Which means, if you are out there doing you, there are even more people watching you with a critical eye, with their personal newspaper company, news camera and radio station always within arm’s reach. And though it may not have been presented to you directly in so many words, you may find yourself wanting to prove yourself to more people than would seem reasonable.
And, as all of us have (and use) access to the by-the-minute broadcasts of others’ opinions, you may feel even more than the usual need to prove yourself to other people, and you have very good reasons for doing so.
But these people are my teammates! They’re my family members! Their negative opinions are part of the reason why I Work On My Game every day. Shutting up these naysayers is my ultimate satisfaction.
I believe you. Here’s a truth: You can put more of your focus on you and your efforts and still shut those people up without paying them any mind. You don’t have to prove shit to them.
Here are the three strategies you need to do so.
Whip Your Fear of Criticism.
There’s an old saying that people fear public speaking more than they fear death; that someone giving the eulogy at a funeral would rather be in the casket. I haven’t seen the statistics, but I believe it’s true — and it’s not because people suck at giving speeches.
It’s the (some real, but mostly perceived) criticism from the crowd people fear, not the talking itself.
In his classic Think And Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill laid our the most prevalent fears of man. Hill placed the fear of criticism second only to the fear of poverty — which made sense in the 1920s and 30s, smack in the heart of the Great Depression. Today, though not everyone is financially rich, the fact that we put so much of our lives “out there” for public consumption has made us all so much more wary of negative opinions, which everyone can know about and see, than of negative bank balances (which, for most of us, is a private affair).
When you’re wary of criticism, you will —
- Not fully speak your mind, unsure of whom you may offend or who might choose to disagree with you.
- Hesitate to try anything that might not work, as your apprehension of what people might say about your failure slows your initiative.
- Make yourself into a sheep, meekly following the crowd and doing what’s acceptable, generally unhappy and unfulfilled but taking solace in knowing that you won’t be criticized for it.
Here are two tips to cure yourself of this fear.
People criticize when they disagree, in whole or in part, with what you do, say or represent. But it’s not your job to get “everyone’s” agreement.
Stop Telling People Your Goals.
I heard MMA star Conor McGregor say that people should announce their goals to the word, to prove that they really believe in themselves. McGregor holds himself up as a example, in that he said he would be he best fighter around, and then subsequently made his prediction come true. While the correlation may be accurate, the causation is not: Conor’s training and talent and skill and dedication to his craft made him a star fighter much more than his public proclamation of goals. As they say, If it was that simple, everyone would be doing it.
As I wrote in The Mental Workbook, your goals are for you to know, not for anyone else to set or approve of or even to hold you accountable to. Most people drift through life with no goals, and thus treat goal-setters like you as television shows, someone to observe and discuss. How much have goalless people watching and critiquing helped you get to your goals?
Having people watching me will motivate me, Dre. I believe you. Performing in front of a crowd is fun, I know. And if you need an audience to be motivated, who or what will you turn to on that lazy Wednesday afternoon in the gym or office when you’re doing the same routine-but-required work you’ve done 100 times before and there’s nothing sexy about it to blast to Facebook? What then?
The only people who need to know your goals are those who are directly involved with, and capable of, helping you reach them. Everyone else is a spectator: They can watch what you do and find out about it when it’s done. They don’t need progress updates. If they had goals of their own, they would have other things to do than watch you pursuing yours.
Divorce Yourself From Other’s Supposed-Tos.
I’ve had basketball players ask me for help with adjusting their shooting form, even though, they say, they’re already pretty good shooters.
Why do you need to adjust your shooting form, then?
Because their friends say their shots looks funny or their form is somehow “wrong.” It’s supposed to be different or “better.”
Supposed-to is the bottomless swimming pool of other people’s expectations, a pool that you’ll drown in if you dare dipping in it.
Compete against yourself and your best, and set your goals based on what you want for yourself, not what anyone else wants for you or thinks you should want for yourself. People place their supposed-tos on you only with what they don’t have the heart to say to or require of themselves.
Prove: demonstrate the truth or existence of (something) by evidence or argument.
Do you want your truth and existence coming from satisfying other people’s standards, or is it about your truth and the standards you have for yourself?
You don’t have to prove shit to anyone.
- The Mental Handbook
- #96: Having A Proven Track Record [WOYG Podcast]
- #321: Energy & Focus Strategies [WOYG Podcast]
PS- Get a free physical copy of my Confidence book The Super You here.