You can take a hit and emerge intact, stronger even.
You might have read the title of this article and thought to yourself, I don’t need any help defining my worth. I know I’m a badass! This is fabulous news for you, but many people struggle with feeling worthwhile and that is why I am writing.
I have a friend who creates striking artwork, all sorts of products that draw your eye with their vivid colors and patterns. Since she is just starting, her sales are a bit anemic. It’s hitting her confidence and it makes me sad. I wish I could convince her that she should keep at it. That the lack of dollars flowing in is not a reflection of her work. (I know, because I don’t have bad taste 😉) She simply hasn’t found her niche and her buyers yet.
Guess how long I’ve been writing professionally? In earnest, I began pouring my attention into my business about two and a half years ago, when I became a writer for The Good Men Project. I did not wake up overnight and find that Huffington had handed me a blogger account, or that my optimal clients were lined up and ready to hand over cash. I had to work at it. Consistently. Tirelessly. Through own triumphs and doubts. The journey needed to remain the same, despite the veers and swerves coming at me.
Through it all, I maintained my self-worth, even after I had taken a beating (a few times.) Baptism by fire.
So, if you are embarking on a start-up, working in a career you love in a company owned by another, or just can’t seem to shake disappointment within yourself, when you read these points, and apply them, they will help.
- Objectivity – It is paramount to learn and practice this skill of delineating one event from the next. Not everything is related. Because you lost a client doesn’t mean all of a sudden, your talents have disappeared. It might be as simple as your client going through rocky financial times, or sometimes, your vision doesn’t jive…but that doesn’t mean that you are untalented, should hang up your paint brushes, your laptop, or other implements that define you. It means you have a differing point of view, but not a wrong one.
- Remember your successes – How did you feel after a landslide win? Pretty empowered probably. Have you stopped to think about what facilitated that win? Have you examined the clients with whom you work best? If you are struggling to close deals and sign new clients, take a step back and examine your strengths, the things that you do that you absolutely rock at doing. The niches where you soar. The deals that are easy to find and sign, and that effortlessly find their way to you…that is where you want to concentrate. This is why people choose a specialty and work on it for years. This is putting in the time finding out where you should apply your efforts.
- You deserve self-worth because you are a person. Period. Listen, even when you stumble, even in your moments where you aren’t feeling so proud, it doesn’t take away from the fact that you should feel good about your efforts. Maybe that doesn’t put money on the table, but this is a part of life and business. You are going to fail, and it is up to you to be kind to yourself when it happens. Yes, learn from it.. Take the lesson in. But do not berate yourself when a slip happens after you have tried your hardest.
- Resilience – I am not telling you to suck it up, but I am saying that you are more powerful than you think. You will feel as bad about yourself as you allow. If you want to feel like crap for an hour, a day, a week, this is all in your hands. And so is feeling awesome about being you and the mission you undertake every day. Are you going to fight when you feel bad, or are you going to succumb to (let’s face it), what is easier, giving up. It takes guts and mettle to battle back from continually putting yourself and your ideas out there, to be potentially shredded by your boss, a prospect or even a friend. If you want to get better, learn to pluck out the helpful critique and throw the rest on the ash heap. Which leads me to my next point.
- Selective Critique – When people are coming at you with suggestions, or you are receiving lukewarm reviews, remember this: stand by your decision, but allow yourself to hear the useful feedback. This is a tricky art. Let me give you an example. When I first wrote my thriller novel, I was hungry for feedback. I wanted to get better. I dreamt of grabbing that best-author novelist golden ring. I squared up my emotions and attitude and dispersed it to over 60 people. The reviews came back and they were ugly and I responded by ugly crying. But a little twinge inside me, worming around in my gut told me what I already knew. I needed to listen or I would never improve. So, I did. I read the reviews, thanked people for taking the time to read my material and as I did this, I discovered not everyone has something valid to say. One person might say, “I hate the name you gave your protagonist.” And another would love it. Someone else might write that a character seemed a little one dimensional and another person might disagree with that opinion. I couldn’t please everybody and neither can you. I had to take the useful information and apply it to any changes I made. I still use this approach in my work. “I hate the color green.” Well, that’s super great, but if it’s germane to your brand, you better get used to it. We need to make strategic choices for improvements, and when we do this, there is nothing to defend. Because we have a solid reason for our decisions.
You have to be Teflon to live in this world, and you can strike the balance of feeling the sadness about loss, but it doesn’t have to destroy you, who you are as a person. It doesn’t have to call into question that you have special strengths unique to you. Validation from outside sources (what we get so used to seeking from social media) isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In this breakneck word, take a moment, look inward, and applaud yourself for every undertaking, and for being strong enough to survive.