Remember there is an oak tree in every acorn.
(An excerpt from my book, The Snowball Effect: How to Build Positive Momentum in Your Life.)
Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way.
Have you ever had anyone try to discourage your dream? Laugh at you, tell you that you are not capable, tell you that it is beyond your reach? I have. I have actually had someone tell me that my vision was ridiculous. She laughed in my face and told me to come back down to earth. I remember her smirk vividly. No, I did not listen to her and give up. Quite the contrary! Her reaction motivated me. It inflamed my passion.
Growing up, I was blessed to have been raised with an “I can do whatever it is I set my mind to do” mindset. My parents believed in me and helped me to believe in myself and my abilities. I grew up thinking that I could do just about anything—unless it involved singing. Trust me, you do not want me trying out for American Idol. If you have ever seen the movie My Best Friend’s Wedding and remember Cameron Diaz singing karaoke, you get the picture. I sound a little bit like a cat in the shower.
While I have always been an optimistic person, I am also aware of my strengths and limitations. Some limitations, I have just accepted—singing being one of them. Instead of trying to be the next Kelly Clarkson, I choose to expand on my strong areas.
Unfortunately, many people were not raised with the “You can do whatever it is you set out to do” mindset, and others have tried to discourage them. If this has been the case for you, I want you to know that their discouragement may have everything to do with them and nothing to do with you. Most of the time when someone tries to discourage you from your vision, it is due to one of these four things, three of which have nothing to do with you.
- They lack vision themselves.
- They are threatened by you.
- They are jealous of you.
- You expect immediate success without preparation.
They lack vision themselves.
Many times people will discourage you from following your dreams because they lack vision. People who lack vision or have limited vision are not able to support your vision. They don’t understand it. Because of their limited vision, they stop short of achieving their dreams. And because they have not been able to achieve their dreams, they cannot conceptualize your dreams coming into fruition. What they do not understand is that they were the ones who stood in the way of their own dreams. They do not realize that you are different from them and will not stand in the way of your own—unless you listen to them. They have created their own reality. You do not want these discouragers to create yours. They do not have the vision to do so. They do not believe in themselves, so they can’t believe in you.
They are threatened by you.
Another reason people may discourage your vision is that they are threatened by you. The better you do, the worse they feel about themselves. Their self-worth is based on an external locus of control. They view their self-worth in relation to everything outside of themselves. That means they compare themselves to you, and if they perceive that you are better than them in any way, their sense of self-worth decreases. The ego of the discourager can’t take such an injury. They will consciously or unconsciously hold you back in order to protect their own fragile ego. Their discouragement is 100 percent about them and 0 percent about you. It is not personal. The last thing you want to do is listen to the discourager and hold yourself back from being the best that you can be, when the discourager is reacting in self-protection mode.
They are jealous of you.
One of the most common reasons for someone to stomp on your vision is jealousy. They want what you have, and it kills them to think of your having more. They may be jealous of your job, jealous of your values, jealous of your work ethic, jealous of your appearance, jealous of how happy you seem … jealous of whatever. Even if you have been pretty down on yourself and can’t think of anything that they would be jealous of, trust me—there is plenty. They see things in you that they want, things you can’t even see in yourself. They may secretly think that you can achieve your dream and therefore try to discourage it. This may be conscious, but many times discouragers are totally unaware of their own motivations. They may convince themselves that your vision is ridiculous, having no idea that deep down they are intensely jealous of you.
You expect immediate success.
Like I said earlier, discouragement is rarely personal and usually has nothing to do with you. But there are some exceptions. Someone may discourage you because you expect immediate success without taking the baby steps needed in order to get there. You want it now without preparation. In that case, your vision may be unrealistic or premature. What may be possible in the long run may not be realistic right now.
If my vision is to play in the NBA next season, and I have never played a game of basketball in my life, I may need a reality check. My plan to play in the NBA next season may have left out the first, second, third, and possibly one hundredth step to get there. Maybe someone is discouraging you because you are not willing to do the work to make some dream a reality. If my dream is to sing the national anthem at the Super Bowl next year, and I can’t carry a tune and sound like a cat in the shower, I may want to reevaluate my vision or sign up for some voice lessons. If my vision is to run my first marathon a month from now and I am unable to run one mile, someone may discourage me from signing up for the race. This discouragement is probably not because he or she is threatened, jealous, or has no vision; it may be because I have not taken the steps to prepare myself for such a race.
If you have a vision and you are willing to do the work necessary to get there, don’t allow other people to contaminate your dream with negativity. Their negativity belongs to them. If you want to move past mediocrity and gain positive momentum in your life, you must shield yourself from the negative. It is negativity that fertilizes the destructive downhill boulder. You must conceive what you want, break it down into baby steps, put it into action, and associate with supportive others. This, my friend, will get you moving in an extraordinary direction.
-An excerpt from The Snowball Effect: How to Build Positive Momentum in Your Life, written by Kristin Barton Cuthriell, MEd, MSW, LCSW.
Acorn Image Source: yunphoto.net