A lot of people seem to cite their doubters for their success. Being told they can’t do something becomes motivation for a lot of people. I get it. No one likes being told they can’t do something. I am just confused as to where all of these pro athletes, mega pop stars, and uber successful business people were hearing all this criticism from. Tim Tebow has a commercial that has him listing off all of these things that people supposedly said about him. I realize he has quite a few critics now, but did people really tell him he couldn’t be a high school quarterback? And who the hell told him he couldn’t get a D-1 scholarship? The dude was the number 1 ranked dual threat QB in the entire country coming out of high school. Do Tim Tebow and other people with some obvious talent just hang around with naysaying assholes? I’m confused…
For me, I have never been in this situation. I don’t get it. From my outside perspective, it seems like all of these successful people say that naysayers motivated them because it seems like a good story. Everyone wants to try to depict themselves as an underdog and that they overcame a bunch of adversity to get to where they are. Don’t get me wrong, I know this happens, but I can’t believe it’s nearly as prevalent as everyone makes it seem. No one wants to say “Everyone believed in me and I went out there and did it”. It’s just not as good of a story.
I personally have never had someone tell me I couldn’t accomplish a goal I set for myself. I am not sure if it’s because I hang around people who are too nice, too stupid, I have super easy goals, or if I am genuinely awesome at everything (the last one is highly doubtful). For me, having people believe in me (or at least pretend to believe in me), is what motivates me. Having someone expect you to accomplish something is a big motivator. Have you ever heard people say that “That guy had so much talent but he never accomplished insert accomplishment here because he was lazy/quit/didn’t take it seriously”? Well I have and if someone said that about me, I think that would weigh more heavily on me than anything anyone could say about me.
In my opinion, having people believe in you is more motivating than having detractors. If people say you aren’t good enough, you have a built in reason to fail. You aren’t letting anyone down if no one thought you could do it anyway. It’s kind of like an episode of Modern Family (yes I am now looking to sitcoms for motivational wisdom) that aired late last year called “Phil on a Wire”. Phil is trying to learn how to walk a tightrope because it’s his dream to learn to walk a wire. He starts by stringing a tightrope between two platforms that are only a foot or two off the ground and he keeps falling and makes little progress. Then his normally stupid son says something pretty brilliant. He said something along the lines of “Maybe you keep falling because part of you knows that you can fall. Maybe if the wire was much, much higher you wouldn’t fall”. They end up raising the rope to a much taller height and Phil successfully walks across the rope.
That is how I look at people who believe in you and your abilities. If someone says you suck and can’t do something, and you end up failing, it sucks, but you met expectations from the outside party and no one was harmed (other than your ego). Now imagine if someone really believes in you. Not only do you want to succeed because you want to prove to yourself that you can do it, but you also want to succeed because you don’t want to let other people down. That’s twice as bad as failing in front of someone who doubts you. You are disappointed and someone else who believed in you in now disappointed. That sucks.
So all in all, my belief is that if I don’t succeed at something, it’s not because I wasn’t good enough. It’s because I didn’t work hard enough at it.
I’m currently work on a project called CompeteAgainst.me with a couple of other guys and haven’t had one person tell me that we won’t be successful. I’ll take that as some motivation that people think I’m good enough to make something out of it so we’ll see what happens.