“Thank you for all that you do! Your work is amazing and saving so many lives.”
“You are an inspiration to everyone, but especially to those that are unsure of what their paths can be.”
I’ve been hearing how amazing I am more than normal the past few weeks. We’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in arguably my favorite thing Life Saver does, donate Life Saver Pool Fences, several times, and this weekend was our annual Life Saver Dealer Conference, where Life Savers from around the country fly to South Florida to learn how to do a better job of saving lives, hear about new developments, and so on. It’s also a time to hand out awards and celebrate successes. Long story long, between the donations, the blog, some consulting, and the conference, I’ve had heaps of praise thrown my way, from being told I’m inspirational to being told I’m the reason for a family’s new financial success to being told I’m literally saving lives.
And part of me feels awful, because while I am tremendously appreciative, and even happier about the positive outcomes, I know I’m not responding to these kind words like I “should”. I’m not overcome with emotion. I’m not overwhelmed. Because the truth is, while I am seriously grateful, and while I do use them as a barometer to know I’m on the right track, they mostly kind of bounce off of me. I don’t internalize them or attach these praises to my identity, my drive, or my self-esteem. And though I do have a very healthy ego, it isn’t constructed by these (incredibly kind) compliments and support.
Because I can’t. The moment the external praise becomes my fuel, my identity, my goal, or my validation, the moment I believe the hype, things change. First, my motivation changes. The reasons for what I do shift to things outside myself, things outside my control, in other people. If I let other people’s approval be what keeps me going, I’ll start changing to get more of that approval. And second, if I open myself to internalize and really believe the praise, then I also have to take in and be dragged down by the hate and negativity. The reason I don’t care about dumb comments on Instagram and negative opinions is because I’m also immune to the good stuff.
Now, with something like this blog, I am paying attention to what resonates most with people so I can provide the most value, just like I monitor ad campaigns to see which are providing the best ROI. There’s a fine line there, but it’s an important distinction.
Thank you, truly, if you’ve ever said anything kind to me. I really do appreciate it. But if you find yourself hesitating in posting a video or doing something bold because you’re worried about negative feedback, think about how you absorb/feed on compliments. If your motivation comes from inside you, the external won’t matter – good or bad.