I spent a lot of years looking for people to believe in me...really, almost anyone who would just...believe in me. I felt that if I had someone who would believe in me, then I could be the man I wanted to be. What I discovered was that my idea of needing someone to believe in me was a front, a charade, an excuse. I had those thoughts like, "if someone will just give me a chance", "if they will just let me have an opportunity", "if they will just stick with me", then I would have the life I wanted. What I didn't realize at the time was, what I REALLY needed, was for me to believe in myself. Maybe this sounds strange, especially if you're one of those people who have known me, because I think I've always come across as someone who is confident, but humble (as I've been told on many occasions). And in some way, I think that's the reality of my thoughts, confident, yet humble.
At the end of 2012, I reached out to an old friend, mentor, and coach. And when I say old, I do mean old...he's about 80 years old now. I say that in complete jest, and if he's reading this, I'm sure the old man will get a chuckle. I reached out to him because I needed some help. I felt stuck in life, and desperate would be a good word for what I felt in regards to the legacy of my life. He was a former COO of one of the largest retailers in the world, let alone the USA. He was and still is considered to be like a "Yoda" of leadership. He is an amazing man...and he believed in me. He introduced me to a woman to whom I am forever indebted. She became my coach, mentor, and now I count her as a friend and partner. She's typically the smartest person in the room, and at roughly 5 foot tall while wearing hills, she is without question, THE most powerful individual I have ever met. And she believed in me, (still does). I was given an opportunity that has changed my life, but not at all in the way I would have expected. I can't even begin to describe the things that I have learned and have been equipped with, but along the road, I began to believe in myself. It's a belief that is anchored in some of the thoughts that I share and talk about frequently. Things like: "it's none of your business what others think about what you're doing", "you can't stand in front of a group of leaders with your hands in your pocket and apologize for being a leader, you have to lead," "if it's something you really want, what does it matter how difficult it is or how long it takes you to get there?", or "no one else can bring to life the dreams that you've been given", and more. Somewhere in there, I began to believe in myself...and it has made all the difference. Isn't it interesting? All that time, I thought I needed someone to believe in me, and yet, what I really needed was for me to believe in myself.
EVERYTHING IS NOT WHAT IT SEEMS
I learned something in the process about these people who forever changed my life. They didn't just help me because they believed in me, they invested in me because they believe in the game of life that they have chosen to "play". They made me an offer, a way of viewing the world and how I operate in it, that I could have either rejected or accepted, and my answer one-way or the other would have zero effect on how they would continue to live their life. So no matter what I did with what they gave me, it changed nothing for the way they live their life. Here I had spent so many years thinking that if someone would just believe in me, I could live the life I wanted. Yet, the essence of freedom in life is found by believing in yourself and what you want, NO MATTER WHAT others think, say, or do. Think about that for a minute, that's powerful! So what I perceived in the beginning to be someone working with me solely because they believed in me (and certainly they believe in my talent, potential, and abilities in life), was actually my brush with greatness in life. It was me interacting with people who believed in themselves and the gifts that they had to offer to the world, regardless if I accepted them or not. They knew what they wanted, and they didn't need me to believe in them for them to do their "thing" and live the life they want. Again, WOW, that's powerful!
Failure is not the end, but a place from which to build.
To put it simply, I quit worrying about what other people thought about what I was doing, or what they thought about what I wanted to do. I quit looking for approval. I quit spending my energy and focus on trying to get people to like me and believe in me. I quit feeling sorry for myself. I quit feeling bad about my circumstances. I quit blaming other people. In fact, while I owned my circumstances...get this...I quit blaming myself (maybe another topic for another day). I quit waiting on others to give me a chance. I did a lot of quitting! I was able to gain clarity in what I really want in life. I gave myself the space and grace to make mistakes, and I learned how to diffuse threats, including the threat of failure. I have focused my energy to my commitment to live the life that I want to live, knowing that no matter what, life will simply turn out the way it does. But no matter how it turns out, I will know that I showed up in the way that I wanted to, instead of the way I thought I had to, or more tragically, the way I thought I was expected to. The pursuit of my life is no longer driven by someone else's belief in me, or even in them giving me an opportunity. My life is now driven by my commitment and focus toward what I really want, creating opportunity, and I BELIEVE in the process. I believe that no matter what, I can keep moving forward, living the life that I want. On this road of life, I have learned that sometimes you have to believe all by yourself, and I'm okay with that...