About midway through the first section of Boss Level: How to Hack Your Way to the Top of Your Career “N00b,” there is a passage I called “Fears, Doubts, and Nay-sayers: Dismissing Bad Advice.” Ask anyone who is old enough to express an opinion or have had a perspective or dream, and they can attest to the fact that, at some point, they have been on the receiving end of a disheartening comment from a “nay-sayer.”
Nay-sayers are always around us. Perhaps they enter our lives to help us form grit. But, experiencing nay-sayers during the early years of our lives (before level/age 19) can negatively shape our views and efforts. For example, when my mom was a kid, she was often told she was “stupid” by her drunk and frequently absent father. Because of this, she felt she could never learn. She barely passed high school and though she loved to read, learn, and was a fantastic speller, she concluded early on that higher education must not be for her because she was “stupid.” It wasn’t until she turned 50 that she went back to school.
She became the most certified esthetician in our city within three years.
Unbeknownst to my brother and me, she could see the writing on the wall that her marriage would be ending a few short years later, and the necessity to provide an income for herself trumped the negative tapes she replayed in her head that she was dumb. The sad part is that she was trapped by the words of her father for nearly 30 years prior to her breakthrough.
We may all have similar stories with varying time-frames of fear, doubt, and confidence issues. Maybe we are surrounded by nay-sayers right now, or perhaps we have just made the decision to break free. The new year always makes room for us to contemplate our paths and where we are heading or not heading.
Instead of re-writing an entry here about how to carry on when fears, doubts, and naysayers encroach on our lives, I think the excerpt from the book suffices:
Fears, Doubts, and Nay-Sayers: Dismissing Bad Advice
“Misery loves company.” The old adage remains true. When others don’t have your best interest at heart, they try to find ways to make themselves feel better at your expense. For example, a pretty girl may not compliment a prettier girl, even if she deserves it, because it may only serve to make the pretty girl feel less pretty. The same goes for guys and strength. The same for who’s “coolest.” When we don’t have another’s best interest in mind, we feel that if we tell others how awesome they are, that we are giving them an advantage over us. Even worse, there are times we might even knock the achievements another person has attained, just to hold them back from believing in themselves. We may do this because we feel sorry for ourselves that we may not have a special quality of our own to believe in.
Why? Because we haven’t worked as long or persevered as much as they have yet, and we want to have what we don’t deserve without having to do all the work for it. Since we are envious that they have put in the work, we try to make their accomplishments seem less significant. It’s sick, isn’t it?
There will always be “nay-sayers” in your life. They will tell you that your idea has a “one-in-a-million (or billion)” chance of
succeeding. They will tell you “it’s already been tried.” They will say to you that you won’t be able to support yourself on that kind of a job, it’s a “tough row to hoe,” “you can’t have your head in the clouds,” or “you’re a dreamer.” No matter the saying or advice, nay-sayers are people who want to keep you back. They aren’t for you. They don’t care if you succeed or fail. They really aren’t that interested in you or your success at all. In fact, their demeaning comments are really just for themselves. What they are really saying out loud is “I’m fine the way I am, and it’s easier not to try things.” They tell themselves, “If I can convince myself that not trying something risky is actually smarter, then I can stay right where I am and not have to endure embarrassment or disappointment if I try and then fail.” You see, for nay-sayers and others who give you bad advice, they couldn’t care any less for you than they already do. They don’t care about you; they only care about themselves. It’s foolish to even give their words a second thought.
On the other hand, those who do really care for you, go ecstatic when you are successful. They love your ideas. They root you on! They laugh and get excited when you laugh and get excited about something great happening in your life. These people think of you and your success as their own success. They imagine how happy they would be if this plan, idea, or success story was their own, and in turn, they feel elated for you because it is happening to you. These are the people who love you.
Sometimes, even those who have your best interest in mind can sound like a nay-sayer, but they aren’t. People who are truly on your side may feel the need to caution you on a plan or idea that may actually bring you harm. Remember, love must also protect – and aggressively at that. The mother bear will not let a predator harm her cubs no matter how much the cubs are foolhardy in thinking they’ve gained a new playmate. Love rejoices and it protects, but it is never self-serving or envious. Know from whom you are getting advice. “Consider the source,” as they say. A simple question will help you know instantly if the one giving you advice is a nay-sayer or a self-serving individual: “Do you love me?” You’ll know by how they respond both verbally and non-verbally.
Don’t put out the fire too early. Don’t let nay-sayers douse your dreams, passions, or what your gut tells you. On the other hand, listen attentively to those who love you. They will hear your passions and will want to find a way to help you realize those desires in a safe, beneficial, and responsible way. They want the best for you both now and long-term. Love is cool, but it is rare. When you find someone who loves you, don’t let go, and love them back.