Do you sometimes ask yourself “Who Am I?”.
Do you play a fraudulent role forged by the flawed expectations or biases of the naysayers who constantly spew forth their mantra of ‘You’ll never be able to do that!’ ?.
I am talking about the kind of people who lack faith and vision, who always try to put you down, diminish your standing, and simply never have a good word to say about you or what you do. These people are to be avoided at all costs and under no circumstances should you ever indulge them by giving any credence to their negativity, lack of belief, and lack of vision; their call is always a call to inaction. They always appear to be firmly rooted in the past, rather than planting seeds for the future and what lay ahead. Sometimes such people might even appear influential, projecting a seductive illusion that they are worthy of listening to, at least on the surface.
There is one incident (though there are many many more I could recite) that illustrates just how important it is to ignore those people who tell you “it can’t be done” or that you are “not good enough”. The incident may appear fairly minor, perhaps even considered unmemorable by some; but an incident like this can nonetheless have a very powerful and profound effect on people, and could even be life-changing.
As a teenager I had an interview with the teacher/careers officer at my school. I will refer to him as “Mr No”. This was a important time for me, as it is for all pupils, when I had to chose what subjects I would study in order to fulfil my dreams and ambitions moving forward. I had decided that I wanted to be a lawyer; well I was one of those kids who could never stop talking in class and I relished a good argument.
When I met with Mr No, who I had hardly spoken to before for more than a few minutes, I told him that I wanted to be a barrister and showed him the careers leaflet that outlined the profile for barristers, explained what they did, and laid down the route to qualification.
Did Mr No tender words of encouragement and support? Did Mr No boost my confidence and help me by providing useful information about how I could achieve my goal? Negative. Mr No gave me this patronising look, closed the leaflet, and without saying a word moved on to other leaflets that he considered “more appropriate”. By more appropriate I mean jobs that Mr No thought fitted his pre-conceived, prejudiced, and limited perception of me and what he thought I was capable of. He was basically telling me that he had no faith in me at all to pursue the career path that I wanted.
He ignored me. He did not listen. He could not look to the future and see my potential, what might be, and what I was capable of accomplishing with the right encouragement and positive environment.
In that one moment Mr No could have destroyed my dreams and ambitions. I could have foolishly trusted him to know better than me; he was a teacher after all. He was an authority figure supposedly with all the knowledge, experience, and expertise that I lacked as a young pupil. I could have let him crush my dreams and destroy my confidence.
But I wasn’t going to let Mr No or anyone else steal my dream from me, to rob me of my confidence. I wasn’t going to be brushed aside by this person who had never even spoken to me before for more than a few minutes; his lack of faith and vision would not be an obstacle to me achieving my goals. So I ignored his negativity and his lack of vision. I did things my way. I did my own research, laid down my own blueprint for the future, and pursued it without distraction.
I ultimately went on to university in London and graduated in law (distinguishing myself in debate and mooting); I went on to pass the Bar examination in England as well as the Bar examination in New York; and I also represented my country in the world debating championships at Trinity College, Dublin, and the international debating championships at Yale University. This would not have happened if I had listened to Mr No and let his lack of vision forge my identity, dictating who I was or what I could be.
I think about how many kids have had their hopes and dreams crushed by people like Mr No. I wonder how many people have made the serious mistake of believing such negative people rather than believing in themselves. I also think about how many adults have their dreams crushed each and every day by someone who knocks their confidence by telling them they’re “not good enough”, or they “won’t be right for the promotion”, or criticise everything they say or do.
I also think about how many startups and entrepreneurs have had their idea kicked into touch by investors or customers, at least at the beginning. But I know that persistence, self-belief, and faith in what can be, will ultimately lead to a successful outcome.
The advice I give to my clients is simple: Listen. But don’t believe everything you hear. To listen is not to believe.
Oftentimes what is said by others is subjective and prejudiced. I counsel clients to never ever let anyone destroy their dreams and aspirations. I empower my clients through effective communication. I arm my clients them with a positive mindset, an unswerving determination, and an intense focus and self-belief.
Whether my client is a Startup, an established business, a working professional, or a student, I help them use the power of communication to achieve their goals and implement a strategy that is context-driven and tailored to them.
My clients don’t believe that a knock-back is a failure. We all experience knock-backs. Almost everyone has driven a car that has had a puncture on the road to their ultimate destination. This isn’t a failure. It is a temporary inconvenience in our journey to our ultimate destination. We simply get out of our car and change the wheel. We get back in our car and continue our journey to our ultimate destination. Knock-backs are like that. We take them on the chin. We learn from them. We adapt. We proceed forward on to our ultimate destination; to success. Failure, or anything like it, only comes if we fail to reach our ultimate destination. But a breakdown along the road to our ultimate destination, or even getting lost for a while, is just a small part of our journey, it is by no means the end of our journey. Although I am sure people like Mr No would consider it so and give up there and then.
Back in my school days I could have believed Mr No’s opinion of my abilities. He could have sent me on a road that went nowhere. But I simply didn’t accept what he told me. It was after all MY life and MY journey and MY identity.
I tell clients never to accept at face value what is said by others, no matter how credible it appears on the surface. Always question everything objectively. Look for proof and sound reasoning; without that anything that is said is merely a subjective assertion and not a fact. Always strip away the thin veneer to expose the truth that lies beneath.
In life, you are certain to come across prejudice or bias; perhaps based on race, class, gender, sexuality, disability, or a host of other reasons; perhaps others may even make an honest but wholly inaccurate assessment of what they believe you are capable of. But honest or not, what other people say can seriously impact the way we think about ourselves and others, and can adversely influence what we think we are capable of achieving. Prejudice in all its ugly forms can blind us to reality. False perceptions can overwhelm the truth and cast long shadows into our present and far beyond.
You must not allow the opinions of others to define who you are. You must refuse to let their opinions dictate what you can achieve. If you submit to such views then you will perpetuate those falsehoods and you will fulfil that dishonest role; you will project that dishonest image on to others. This is the BIG LIE: you don’t show the real you and what you can truly achieve. Instead you dishonestly project a false image, a fiction that reflects less than your true self and what you are really capable of.
When we lie to other people in this way we give them less than our best and just a small part of who we truly are. We also betray ourself by fulfilling a role of “not good enough” that has been crafted by others. Unless we embrace who we truly are and show what we can truly achieve, then each and every second of each and every day we are living a lie; we are a fraud.
Do you really want to be conned by the prejudiced, negative lies of the naysayers and fulfil the role of “not good enough”? Or would you rather project who you really are and the excellent results you are truly capable of achieving?
Don’t let others stop you from being your true self, from achieving your full potential. Refuse to let your dreams evaporate into the ether, lost forever and never to be reclaimed.
Through the power of communication you can raise your confidence and achieve your goals. You can be fearless and warmly embrace every opportunity with open arms. Everything we do with our clients is done with purpose and we help our clients to adopt a purposive and context-driven approach to everything they do.
As Theodore Roosevelt said:
“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumph, even though checked with failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the grey twilight that knows not victory or defeat.”
Whatever your dream or triumph is, you must always remember that it belongs to you as owner and no one else.
What matters is that you allow yourself to pursue your dream freely; to achieve your triumph without hindrance. Never let anyone snatch that dream away from you, or prevent you from achieving your own personal triumphs with the big lie that you are not capable.
If you project the real you and allow yourself to be heard, I am confident that excellence and success will follow and you will win “glorious triumph”. But that will mean ignoring those who say “You’ll never be able to do that!”, and cleansing your life of people like Mr No.
Author: Lee Phanurat-Bennett, MD, Accordant Co.,Ltd