I am always proving myself, and it’s exhausting



The Context

All of us come up against people who question our abilities. Their wrecking ball of doubt swings into action and tries to knock the bricks out of our foundation. Now, when we're young, this yearning for approval is what drives us to be recognized and verified. People's skepticism triggers us to clench our fists and say to ourselves, oh you just wait. I’ll show you who's valuable. Watch me. This reaction can be useful. Many a dream have been realized with this mindset, and it can be a strong source of motivation and momentum. At the very least, it makes for a good energy drink commercial. But one of the lessons we learn as we grow older is, doing things just to prove people wrong no longer serves us. After a certain number of years, we can’t operate from a place of scarcity anymore. It takes too much a toll on our mind, body and spirit.

The Tool

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UPGRADING — Loving our creative work without relying on interpersonal or organizational approval

That call has to come from inside the house. We have to learn to love ourselves without making that love conditional on interpersonal or organizational approval. Sure, it’s nice to be believed in. But we don't need someone else's blessing for us to do what we know in our bones feels right. The shift is to stop proving ourselves and start expressing ourselves. When doubters cross their arms, cock their heads and furrow their brows, we ignore them and keep trudging forward. We respond with energy that is quiet and secure, as it’s been tested in the crucible of experience. Trusting our resources will richly support us. Do you know that feeling? It’s extraordinarily calming and freeing. Instead of demanding your rights, you’re deploying your gifts. Instead of being somebody you’re not, you’re embracing who you already are. Instead of impressing people with your outside, you’re inspiring people from your inside.

In the early years of my entrepreneurial journey, I spent quite a while hanging my heart on such narrow pegs. My work was fueled by perishable sources of external, not internal inspiration. Will all the top industry publications report on me? Will the right colleagues approve of me? Will my biggest competitors be jealous of me? Will my family members stop pestering me to get a real job? Classic rookie mindset. And while trying to service those fears on an hourly basis definitely motivated me to get a lot of stuff done, my inner life took a toll. Proving myself became an addiction from which it was very difficult to get free. Because the reality is, there is no amount of approval from others that can make us feel worthy.

The Rest

There’s no handbook for how to upgrade over the course of your career. It’s mostly just the passage of time. One day you realize, oh wow, people can’t reject me anymore because I’m not operating from a place of lack. Now I can just be grateful for the opportunity to do my thing, experience fulfillment from the process, and if the result uncrosses people’s arms, fine. If not, that’s fine too. What way of being that served you ten years ago no longer applies today?

The Benefits

Tap into ambition from a place of security within yourself
Evolve into the next version of yourself
Find new arenas of fulfillment through life projects
Build new set of contexts and motivations from which to approach your work

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