The External Saboteur
Something’s bugging me today. In fact this something has bugged me for a while but the last few weeks it has become increasingly obvious to me that virtually all of us face similar challenges in one area of the creating-our-best-life process; support, encouragement and understanding from others. Or the lack thereof. You’ve heard me speak many times about the internal saboteur and our propensity to get in our own way (we all do that), well today I want to talk about the external saboteur; people who (for a range of reasons) aren’t really happy to see you succeed, achieve your goals, realise your potential or live your dreams. I could spend an hour or two telling you why they do this (jealousy, resentment, immaturity, revenge, insecurity, thoughtlessness, selfishness, stupidity), but I’d like to focus on a solution for you, rather than explore their motives and mindset.
How Dare You Succeed
You and I both know these people. Sometimes we live with these people. Work with these people. Socialize with these people. Care for these people. Even marry these people (shock, horror). Sometimes he/she is the last person anyone would suspect of standing between you and your dreams. Your ambition and drive bothers them because somehow they have created an association (in their mind) between your success and some kind of negative outcome or effect in their world. They say they care about you (and maybe on a level they do) but in truth, your happiness and success come a distant second to their needs and wants.
Human Speed Humps
You might be amazed at the number of people who become quite emotional (bawl their eyes out) when I talk with them simply because I show them more support, encouragement and belief in one hour than their family or close friends (I use that term loosely) have shown them in a lifetime. These external saboteurs are human speed humps determined to slow you down, if not, bring you to a grinding halt. They are not the reason we fail but if we don’t deal with them in a practical, realistic and possibly blunt manner, then we are letting them steer our ship, shape our reality and limit our potential.
1. Get them out of your life. Obviously this is not always possible, desirable, necessary or practical, however there comes a time, in some situations, with some relationships and some people, where the best option is to remove them from your day to day life. I know you know what I mean by this because we’ve all had that person in our life. I have walked away from several relationships over the years because I believed that’s what would be best for me in the long term. And it was. If people aren’t happy for you to succeed, then they ain’t your friend and you don’t need or want them in your world. If you want to know what (some) people really think, ignore ninety percent of what they say and watch one hundred percent of what they do.
2. Spend limited time with them. Obviously there are certain people who will (probably) always be in our life (family for example) but sadly, they are also often the people who potentially stand between where we are now, and where we want to be (if we let them have that power). Some parents (not mine) have never told their children how talented, creative, clever, capable, valued or loved they are. They have never encouraged or supported them because they want to retain power and control in that very lop-sided, unhealthy relationship. I know forty year-olds who are still seeking parental approval and still handing over their power to dear old mum (mom) and dad. Tragic.
3. Tell them what you feel. Sometimes a simple and honest discussion will change a situation or a relationship almost instantly. Give the person clear, specific, relevant and meaningful feedback. Don’t be vague, general or fluffy. Tell them exactly what you’re feeling and why. A little short-term pain for some long-term gain
4. Get some balls. Not literally of course. Sometimes we simply need to stand up for ourselves and stop being the victim, the doormat, the scapegoat, the people pleaser and the personal slave. Make some decisions about your personal rules, values and standards and then build your best life around those. Stop compromising and start living.
5. Be (very) selective about who you share your dreams with. For all of my adult life I have been a highly motivated, driven and ambitious person. By choice. Not particularly gifted but always striving to get the most out of my body, my career, my relationships and my potential; to maximize what I have. Several experiences early on taught me not to be overly enthusiastic about sharing my life goals and dreams with too many people. I learned to be selective and discerning about who I share my dreams with. When I established my first commercial business as a twenty four year-old with zero business experience and minimal skills, I encountered far more resentment, resistance and criticism than I ever did support or encouragement. The people who were genuinely and unconditionally happy for me to succeed were few and far between. By the way, this is not a woe-is-me story, but rather an honest account of my experience and I am not alone with a story like this. I have a few select people in my world, who will encourage and support me when it’s warranted and kick me in the ass when necessary. And I need both. I trust them, appreciate them and value their input in my life.
So instead of slowing down for the speed humps or going around them today, perhaps it’s time for you to change down a gear, hit the gas and drive straight over them.
Works for me.