There are too many men who continually seek external validation for who they are and what they do. Whether they’re looking for that validation from their parents, kids, wife/girlfriend, or boss, it poses a very serious problem because, when we do, we end up achieving the exact opposite of what we should be striving for – being proud of ourselves.
If you can look in the mirror with a sincere understanding that you are doing everything you can to be the best possible man you’re capable of becoming, that should be all you need. When you look for that in external sources, however, it’s a recipe for disaster. Here are four reasons why:
1. IT’S UNRELIABLE
People leave. People come. People go. People change their minds and their opinions. Seeking the validation of others is not reliable so, if you’re striving for that, be prepared for disappointment. Be prepared for a roller coaster of the ups and downs of people’s whims, desires, and wishes.
2. YOU SELL YOURSELF SHORT
If you’re relying upon somebody else’s metric of success, you likely living life less than you’re capable of. Most people have low expectations of themselves, and you. When you attempt to win over the approval of others, you measure success at their low standard. I know men, for example, who don’t care about how much money they make just as long as they make more than the next guy.
If you’re measuring yourself against somebody else who is producing inferior results and you just barely edge them out, how successful can you really be? Your metric, standard, framework, and benchmark should be the highest standard by which you operate.
3. YOU OVERLOOK YOUR UNIQUE TALENTS AND ABILITIES
For a long time, I compared myself to what other people were doing, how they did it, and why they did it. I began to think I was a loser because I wasn’t achieving the level of success others were. A big reason for that is that I was overlooking where I was inherently strong.
There are things about your experience, culture, background, beliefs, and ideas that have made you capable of doing something the guy right next to you can’t do because he hasn’t had those same experiences, beliefs, and ideas.
Don’t compare yourself to other people. Don’t do it somebody else’s way. Do it your way. If something sounds meaningful, engaging, and interesting to you, do it that way. You’re going to have infinitely more success doing it that way than you ever will by trying to do it someone else’s way.
4. YOU’RE STRIVING FOR SOMEONE ELSE’S DEFINITION OF SUCCESS
One of the questions I get asked all the time is, “What does it mean to be successful?’ The only correct answer that question is “autonomy.” Success is about doing what you want, why you want to do it, how you want to do it, and when you want to do it. It’s different for every single person. I cannot define success for you. You can’t define it for me. I can simply define it for me. I’m not interested in living by anyone else’s definition of success.
I see so many who lack confidence – the “X-factor” if you will. All of us have seen the guy who walks into the building and recognizes that there’s something different about him. This is a man who is not worried about what you think. He doesn’t care. He’s indifferent to it. A man like this, who has the “X-factor,” is a man who knows who he is, what he’s capable of, and moves in that direction.
I want you to be that kind of man. I know you do as well. Here are six strategies for developing the “X-factor” and the ability to look at the man in the mirror and be proud:
MAKE A PLAN
If you’re going at life haphazardly, taking a shotgun approach, and hoping something will work, you’re likely to default to what everybody else says you should be doing and, fall into the four traps I mentioned earlier. You don’t want to default to somebody else’s standard. You want to create your own standard and, you do that by having a plan.
At the end of every single day, I get my notepad out and I write exactly what I’m going to be doing the next day. Now, does it always work out the way that I planned it? Of course not. But having the plan in place is the thing that allows me to define and measure my actions against what I want to accomplish.
Make a plan. Have goals. Have objectives. Know what it is that you want to accomplish so that you can come back and ask yourself, “Did I get this thing done?” When you can answer, “yes” to that question you’ve given yourself the opportunity to feel proud based on the things that you’ve accomplished.
DO THE THINGS THAT SCARE YOU
Everybody talks about fear as not being real. That’s not true. Fear is real. It’s an emotion. It’s an experience. It’s designed to help you, but often, it has the ability to sabotage you. We become so afraid of doing the things that won’t necessarily hurt or kill us, but rather the things that simply make us feel slightly uncomfortable. Fear keeps us from doing those things.
And, when we avoid these things, even if we manage to accomplish some small degree of success in another person’s eyes, we know deep down inside that we didn’t do all we were capable of and that, instead of facing the fear, we cowered from it and ran.
Action Item: Take a notepad out and write down everything you want to do, especially the things that scare you. Now, start through the list. When you accomplish something you didn’t previously think you could do, you start walking the path of making yourself proud.
There’s a lot of self-help-type gurus out there who say, “Don’t celebrate the victories. Just move right on to the next one.” I understand that. As a high-achieving, it’s easy to move on to bigger, better, greater, and faster.
There’s nothing wrong with that, but if you can’t pause and think about what you’ve just accomplished, you’re doing yourself a disservice. And it doesn’t even have to be significant accomplishment. It could be very little things like completing a new project at work, asking an attractive woman on a date, having a difficult conversation with your wife or your child, or taking your first jiu-jitsu class. It doesn’t have to be some grandiose accomplishment in order for you to be proud of it.
Celebrate victories. Don’t relish in victories. Don’t live your life in the past but celebrate nonetheless. Then, after you’ve celebrated, rewarded yourself, and recognized that you’ve done something great, move on and know it’s time for something even greater.
EMBRACE THE MEANINGFUL
Embrace things that are meaningful to you, not meaningful to other people and certainly not the things other people say you should do. Look, all of us are a little weird. All of us are a little strange. We all do things differently. There are things that are in my life I enjoy doing that other people would consider weird. I used to avoid those because I wasn’t “supposed to” or they weren’t “cool.” You know what, it wasn’t fun because I was doing what other people said I should do or what I thought I could “should do.”
Embrace the weirdness. Embrace the things that make you unique. Embrace the things you find meaning and significance in, and don’t worry about what other people say or think. Explore. Try new things. Be a little weird. You’re going to live a lot more meaningful and significant life when you do.
UTILIZE THE KAIZEN METHOD
A lot of men think that, if they can’t accomplish the biggest, best, and greatest all at once, that they’re somehow failures. That’s not the truth. You’ve got to get started.
I’ll give you an example of what I mean. About 2 1/2 months ago, I started running. There’s a hill right outside my house that is about a mile and a half to the top. When I started running, I couldn’t get a 1/10th of a mile without having to stop and walk for a distance before I could start running again.
Just last week, I ran the entire thing. The next day, I ran up and back down without stopping. I would not have been able to accomplish that if I wasn’t willing to at least get myself into the game.
You’ve got to get started. It’s going to be awkward. It’s going to be uncomfortable. You’re not going to be as successful as the guy standing next to you. You’re going to want to quit because you’re not as good as you’d like. And, that’s exactly what most people do. And, that’s why there are so many men who aren’t proud of who they are and the way they show up because they’re not showing up. They’re hoping, wishing, and praying that things will work out and somehow, miraculously, they’ll be good at something they’ve never even tried.
Look, if you’re good at something the very first time you try it, you’re not setting lofty enough goals. The goal should be to create something that’s not within your reach right now, that you can be working towards over a period of time. This is how we improve. This is how we get better. We build progress. And, when you get started slowly, steadily, and consistently you’ll be able to look back and not even recognize the man that you were. You’re going to be proud of the man that you are.
Consciousness could mean a lot of different things, but the way I’m defining it here is your ability, as a man, to look at yourself objectively and consider who you are, who you were, and who you have the potential to become.
See, humans are one of, if not the only, species on the planet who can understand their point in space and time, then consciously choose a new path simply because they want to. As a conscious being, you can look at who you are objectively. This analysis is not designed to beat yourself up and it’s not to be overly prideful in what you’ve accomplished. It’s designed to detach yourself from the outcome and analyze your performance and the results that inevitably follow.
We have a tendency to get so emotionally attached to our outcomes. We tell ourselves how dumb we are, how bad we messed up, and why we’re losers.” When we cling on to that and never let it go, it’s impossible to move forward.
You have to drop the baggage. You have to look at where you were, who you were, and how far you’ve come. This is consciousness. The more that you can do that, the more that you can objectively look at your life and recognize what you should be doing moving forward and who you have the potential to become.
I know that one might sound a little “woo-woo,” but the more that you’re aware of who you are and how you show up, the more likely it is that you can dictate how you’re going to be moving forward.
I want you to make yourself proud – not me, your parents, your kids, your spouse, your friends, perfect strangers on the interwebs, but you. I want you to be able to look at the man in the mirror and understand that you’ve done some great things, that you’ve accomplished some big things, that you are the best standard of success.
When you start making plans before you engage in activities, when you do things every single day that push you outside of your comfort zone and expand your potential to do more, when you celebrate victories, when you embrace the oddities and the strangeness that makes you who you are, when you embrace the 1% Kaizen Method, when you understand and you are aware of who you are and who you have the potential to become and, most importantly, you start working towards it, that’s how you make yourself proud. That’s how you stand in front of the mirror and look at the guy staring back at you and find yourself proud of who you’ve become, who you are and who you’re capable of being.