Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Meeting Expectations

I read a blog post today entitled You Can't Be Anything If You Put Your Mind To It today. At first, I hated it. The author tells you, straight up, you have to accept that you can't be the richest, most athletic person in the world. The only thing you can be...is you.

I found it very demoralizing. But I let it percolate in my mind anyway. All because of some advice I gave someone recently.

I told my friend this: You don't owe anyone an explanation for why you can't take their advice, but you do owe yourself a chance at taking it.

So I took my own advice and thought about what this author said. And I think I finally got his point, though I still disagree with how he delivered it.

Being a billionaire, being an Olympic athlete, being on the NFL, none of those things are really about being you. They are external, not internal. Those things are things people strive to attain because other people told them it was something desirable.

You can play football without being on the NFL, and love it. You can do any of the Olympic sports without competing in the Olympics, and love it. You can be financially stable and not be a billionaire, and love it. Those things are attached to a need to show the world that you have MADE IT. That you are accomplished and great and important.

When, if you truly were any of those things, you wouldn't need to show it to the world at all.

And, if I'm being perfectly honest, I have driven myself to succeed and show everyone I'm something incredible my entire life. Not because I need to be a famous writer or need money or things. But because I want to prove all the people who doubted me as a child wrong. I want to show the world I'm worth something, because there have been far too many people who have tried to tell me I'm worth nothing.

I'm also driven by an internal need to write and share my stories. And that internal need has driven me to succeed far more than my need to prove something to the world. By seeking to be myself, I have gone much further than if I'd concentrated on the need to prove others wrong.

Internal motivation works much better than external motivation, in other words. And it turns out the author of that blog post was quite right. I completely disagree with how he states it, but his point is valid. We should not strive to be what other people have told us is right. We should strive to be what we want to be, inside, the person that is the truest form of ourselves.

So, if anyone else out there is striving to meet expectations of others, even indirectly, maybe you should read that blog post, too. You never know, it might open your mind, just as it did mine.

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