What happens when you don’t get validation from the outside world?
You know what I mean. Praise for an “A”, a pat on the back from your boss, “good job”, high ratings, best seller status, gold record. What happens when no one notices the “A”, the boss doesn’t even know your name, no one watches, no one reads your book, your album stalls? Do you give up?
This week I have been thinking about that. I feel like no one is noticing, ratings are low, forget about best seller status because no one is reading my writing. I truly believe my calling is writing, but maybe I am just not good enough. Maybe, this should be a hobby. Maybe, I should get a real job. This stemmed from not being chosen in a contest. One group of people have decided I am not good enough and I am beginning to wonder if that is true.
Do I give up?
My head says yes. My heart says no.
There are two things that are prodding me forward as I stand stuck in doubt. One is the kind, unsolicited messages of those who have been helped by my words. Isn’t that true success? Isn’t that the whole point of my writing? The other is that I love it. So much so that I want to get good enough for the jury of that contest to say so next year.
I think of those who have gone past the “no”s to the “yes’s.” Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum admitted that she tried out for American Idol, not once but twice. Both times she didn’t get past round one. Now we are not talking about round one in front of the judges. We are talking about round one in the stadium, several rounds before the judges even got involved. American Idol told her she didn’t have it. She could have walked away and believed they were right, it was over. My guess is she had just enough people tell her she was good combined with a passion for singing that just couldn’t be denied. Six Grammy’s is pretty good reward for believing and persevering. Richard Branson had dyslexia and struggled in school. He was told he wouldn’t go far. Now he is a “Sir” and a billionaire thanks to his Virgin empire. How about Oprah? She had every reason to fail. A teacher told her she was special. This was just enough spark to ignite her passion to learn and teach and she is now one of the most powerful women in the world.Einstein failed the college entrance exam. Theory of relativity…need I say more?All went on to greatness because they had passion for something that could not be denied. I am sure that was combined with someone telling them, somewhere on their journey, that they were good enough and an inner knowing that was true.
So, what do you do when you don’t get validation from the outside world?
Look for validation inside.
There are two lessons to be learned here. One, our own opinion, desire, assessment of ability, passion for the job, need to get better, wanting to do it more than anything outweighs any other opinion, including a professional’s. So, do what you need to do to follow your personal sense of passion and purpose. Secondly, know that you have a chance to uplift someone today with your words. If you hear a song that touches you, read a book that inspires you, see a job being done beyond the scope of its description, see someone struggling and know they are worthy of greatness, reach out to the singer, author, employee, student, friend or family member and tell them.
Just before I sat down to write this morning, I quickly checked my e-mail. This is what I found:
“You are a gifted writer. The blog about “Change” is really good.”
When my friend took a quick minute to write those words, she had no idea of their impact. She had no idea that they were my fuel for another day.
Sometimes inner validation needs a little outside help. “You can do it” makes one unstoppable when fused with “I can do it” so don’t make “I can” have to stand alone.