Growing up in Houston, one of my weekly chores was mowing and edging the yard. At first, I didn’t like the boring task of going back and forth across our yard. By high school, I welcomed the mental alone time to work through what had happened during the week or to solve a homework problem.
Finishing the yard was satisfying. Work completed. Today, I continue to mow our yard, even though my teenage son has a lawn service business.
A couple of weeks ago, while thinking through one of the book chapters, I thought about where we are today. I thought about work. I thought about how we all need to build a sustainable income. I thought about what should I tell my son when I see so many more changes coming.
As digital knowledge workers, we are all a commodity in the digital economy. Every time, I scroll through LinkedIn, the job titles and words used to describe our work is the same.
I thought about what do I tell the readers of the book while another voice said – what makes you different from the other strategists?
The first to word pop in my mind was experiences – all of them from elementary school to now.
What makes us different are our experiences and personality. In everything we do, it comes down to the decisions we made when faced a challenge or problem. All of our experiences matter, as they seamlessly incorporated in our brain for future reference.
The knowledge gained is cumulative and transferable. Too often we copy thought leaders whom we seek to emulate instead of being ourselves. But the real competitive edge is our unique experiences and personality. No one else on this planet has lived your identical life or has had to solve the exact problems. There are people who may be close to you but there is no one exactly like you.
We allow fear to keep us stuck from being who we are. What would you do if you were not afraid?
I think about the people who tell me they feel left behind. I think about how do we create a personal brand that ensures long-term sustainability. I think about these questions because they need to be solved.
Then I think about the students at speaking events, what do I tell them when we all know the old story “go to college and get a good job” is almost obsolete.
Here is what I thought of while mowing two weeks ago. I will tell them to focus on obtaining real experiences where you solve human problems, where you gain an understanding about yourself in difficult situations and then determine how you can use this experience in your career.
This is not about solving pre-canned problems to pad your resume or college application; this is about doing the real work. To have the guts to be yourself.
I will tell you to do the same. The world needs us to be ourselves, not a carbon copy of someone else.
Instead of using another buzz term to describe what makes you different – share an experience instead.
When we have more time to chat, I’ll tell you the story about what I learned from removing wildlife from the backyard.
This morning, I’m focused on why we constantly seek approval from others before we make a decision. Are we afraid to fail or do we prefer to let someone else take the responsibility? Often to feel good about ourselves, we seek approval from a specific person or group of people.
Why is their approval so important? Have you ever regretted the decision you made based on their approval? I have, more than once and its sucks. Because you end up spending mental resources, rehashing your regret for seeking their approval and the time you wasted. I’ve learned regret can propel you to make changes or not. There is no middle ground with regret.
I believe gaining an awareness of when we are seeking approval, especially when we are seeking it from the wrong people, is one of the most important action we can take. If not, we will forever remain in the vicious cycle of giving our power away while wasting time waiting on someone else’s opinion of us.
When we seek out approval, we’re really saying — I don’t have the guts to make this decision. When the person says yes or no, we are released from the taking ownership of the decision.
But most of the time, these people are wrong. Because their response is based on their worldview, their perspective, and what they think of us. What we often forget is that family members and friends can have dated views.
I wrote this post because once again, I find myself at the same crossroad I was at two years ago. I sought the approval of two individuals, neither which have recognized or accepted that I have changed. I can see that now.
Their disapproval and advice then and now does not match where I am at in my life and career. The difference is so vast; it’s like we’re on different planets. We all have family members and people in our lives who refuse to change their worldview.
When you change, it challenges their thinking. They don’t want to change how they think of you. They work to make you feel guilty about your actions because they don’t want to make the effort to change or are incapable of accepting the new you.
Their opinions become irrelevant and are a waste of time.
Seeking approval from others is based on our internal fears of making a mistake or being seen as a failure. If people judge you solely on your mistakes, then rethink your relationship.
Learn to trust your gut intuition. Your gut knows when we’re on the right track and when are off rail. I know from experience and have had my gut scream at me several times recently because I was not listening. In the next week, I will make a major decision about my career and not seek the approval of others.
You know deep down exactly what you need to do. Your voice is there…learn to listen to your gut. Think, what would you do right now if you stopped seeking approval from everyone including your parents, girlfriend, boyfriend, partner, teacher, boss, friends, neighbor, brother, sister, be sure to include the people who you are trying to prove wrong.
What would you do? What would you change? What thoughts went through your mind — no filters!!
If nothing came to mind — then think about that too? Why have you shut everything down? Is it because of others’ opinion of you? Why are you willing to let these people direct your life? Why?
Why are we all so afraid to be ourselves? I think the fear of what others will think traps us, leaving us unable to move forward.
I’m done giving my power away. I am done allowing others to make decisions about my life when they know nothing about who I am. I am done seeking approval and have made a promise to myself to eliminate this negative habit