“The simplest way to silence your critics…is to do what they claim you can’t do.”
― Israelmore Ayivor
I suppose most of us grew up being told – I know I was – when confronted with something challengingly new, that we could do it if we but tried and applied ourselves. Sometimes we rose to the occasion and succeeded. Sometimes not, but at least we were encouraged to try.
At times, we were told not to do this or the other, that we couldn’t or shouldn’t. And we grew up never trying, never knowing, never thinking that – just maybe – they were wrong. Even as adults, this happens to us all too often. When in doubt, especially when it reaches the chorus level of many family and friends, perhaps we should heed the admonishments or warnings, whatever it’s about could save us or others unnecessary pain (it’s one thing to hurt yourself, but it’s never permissible to do something that might hurt someone else.)
But when you’re sure they’re wrong, you know it in your heart, you know yourself better than they do and know what you’re capable of (or at least sincerely believe so) you just have to do it anyways. As I wrote in my post “No? Really?” (9.13.16), sometimes you’ve got to say, “Oh yeah, sez who? Watch me!” – at least in your mind (I don’t recommend that as a verbal response for children, employees or spouses, unless you’re willing to accept the backlash – it can have undesired consequences.)
History is replete with stories of people who wouldn’t listen to the naysayers, those negative and pessimistic people who project their own personal fears, or find fault, or cannot see the potential, in others:
• J.C. Penny said of an employee, “[He hasn’t] much of a future in the retail business.” That employee was Sam Walton, who founded Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retail business at $485.87 billion in revenue and compared to Penny’s revenue of about $12.5 billion (both, 2016.)
• His high school coach didn’t see any real skill or potential in him and cut him from the varsity basketball team. The wannabe player was Michael Jordan, who (according to his biography on the NBA website) was, “By acclamation…the greatest basketball player of all time” and today has a net worth of $1.2 billion.
• Straight from college and working as a salesman in a computer store, he spent more time cultivating new customers than attending the cash register. One day he was engaging a potential customer and didn’t open the store on time. He was fired. So, with $60 in his pocket, Mark Cuban started his own computer business (which he sold 9 years later for $6 million.) Today, after many more business adventures, he’s worth $2.7 billion.
• Her drama school teacher told her, “Try another profession. Any other.” Apparently he didn’t see any potential. Lucille Ball proved him wrong and became one of the most prolific and well-loved actresses of all time, who had a net worth of $40 million at the time of her death (1989). That would be $80 million, today.
• Performing in a high school talent show, the audience booed him off the stage. He didn’t let that stop him from writing songs and performing in public. Bob Dylan went on to sell 100 million records, garner world-wide acclaim, even a Nobel Prize, and has today a net worth of $180 million.
They are just a few. There are many more like them who refused to listen to those who told them they “can’t”. Not everyone of them became money-rich, but earned fame and acclaim and made all of us the better for it.
So why should I listen to the critics? Why should you?
And then there is our inner critic. You’ve heard it, the nagging little voice in the back of your conscious whenever you think about or feel the urge to try something new, something out of your comfort zone, when you are unsure of yourself or unable to know if you’ll succeed. Well, you’ll never know, will you, unless you try.
If you want to do something new in your life or even change your life, and when others (or that inner voice) say you shouldn’t or you can’t, and after deciding that the only person that could be hurt if you fail is yourself…
Just say, “Oh yeah, who sez? Watch me!”