Having thick skin is necessary whenever you set out to accomplish a personal task. Regardless of what goal it is that you’ve set for yourself, there will be individuals that doubt your abilities. Coworkers, friends, and even family members will question your resolve and push you to abandon your dreams. They may support you, but they will say things like, “That’s too expensive. You’ll never be able to afford to start your own business” or they will say, “Losing 50 pounds is really hard. You should just be happy with 5 or 10. Remember the last time you tried to lose weight? It lasted two weeks”.
All around you are people who have, at one point or another in their lives, had a dream that they held in their hearts, and most people let others convince them to give up on those dreams. When someone pushes against your idea, it is more of a reflection of their mindset than yours. It shows that they’ve accepted a life of average through the justification of excuses. They faced adversity at some point and gave up. But you have determined that average is not good enough, and you’ve taken the first step to change your life. For that you should be proud.
That being said, it is difficult to constantly be faced with doubt. While you may have some close friends who support you on your journey, most will not, and hearing their doubts can weigh on you. It seems that everywhere that you turn, someone is standing in your way, telling you that the mountain is too high to climb. Again and again you hear that you should give up, and that you will most certainly fail. So, the question remains: How do you respond to someone who says that you won’t succeed?
Step #1: Return to the Basics
Completing any challenge requires hard work and research before action can be taken. If you have put in the work prior to embarking on your journey, you already have a solid foundation beneath you, a foundation that should provide solidity during the challenging times. When you are told, “This cannot be done” turn to what you know best. Study the numbers and immerse yourself once again in the details of your plan. If you do this, it will only help solidify your belief in what you are doing. You will see with new eyes the passion and commitment that you once felt for your project, and the outside voices will no longer have an effect on you.
Step #2: Remember Your “Why”
In my previous blog post, I talked about the importance of your “Why”. In that discussion, I stressed that having the proper motivation behind your actions will help keep your mind focused no matter what is thrown your own. In the case of being told that you will fail, your “Why” must remain first and foremost in the front of your mind. Hold it…wrap your thoughts around it…and remind yourself exactly why you started down this path in the first place. If you do this, you can convince yourself that success is attainable. Too many people choose to give up with faced with challenges and adversity because their “Why” isn’t strong enough. They say that they want success, but then they fold and take the path of least resistance. Don’t be like everyone else. Hold on to your “Why” and keep moving forward.
Step #3: Be Open-Minded
There is a fine line between turning out all of the negative voices and being blind to constructive criticism, and many people struggle to balance this line (myself included). How do we remain committed to our idea while also ensuring quality through collaboration? If enough people are saying, “You should do this” or “This can’t be done”, some of them have to be right, don’t they?
The important thing to remember when it comes to outside opinions is that the larger your goal, the fewer the number of people that will have accomplished what you have set out to accomplish. This means that fewer people will have the necessary experience to provide you with guidance and wisdom. If they have never done what you are attempting to do, they have opinions based on outside observations. In this case, respect their ideas but stay true to your belief in yourself and your work.
This changes slightly if someone you know has completed the same task you are working to complete. If they’ve started their own business, listen to their lesson on entrepreneurism. This doesn’t mean you have to apply all of their teachings to your own business, but stay open-minded to the possibility of learning. The same goes for any goal (becoming an engineer, travelling abroad, inventing, becoming a published author, working in the medical field). If you can find someone who has tasted the sweetness of success, listen to them when they give you feedback on your work. It may sting to hear, but it will help you grow.
In the end, your dream is your dream. Even open-mindedness can be a curse if you let it. Using another famous innovator as an example, Walt Disney was fired from his first job as a television writer because he lacked creativity. If he had listened to those in his respected field, he would have given up on his dreams and never built the empire we know today. So my point is this: Know your dream inside and out. Learn every aspect of it and commit it to your heart. Once you do this, move forward with relentlessness. There will be those who doubt you and say that what you are attempting to do seems impossible. But choose carefully who you let influence your decisions. Because the voice of the majority echoes with mediocrity.