When Others Don’t Support You

D7631Last week I shared with you the story of a fellow professional’s experience on his path to becoming an Eagle Scout. As it goes with any other challenging, worthy goal, there are two factors that are crucial:

  1. you must be totally committed to achieving it (and thus not being willing to give up in the face of obstacles), and
  2. you need the support and encouragement of friends and family

If you do not have both, then becoming an Eagle is highly unlikely. In fact, during the award ceremony, it is typically a parent who does the honor of pinning the Eagle Scout rank pin on his or her son. This is intended as recognition of the role that the parent–and other key members of that scout’s support system–plays in this achievement. 

This calls attention to how important it truly is, when building a business, charting a new career path or any other worthy endeavor, not just to be firmly committed but to have the support–and belief–of the people closest to you.

Which begs the question: what if you don’t have this support? Let’s face it: in the real world, this happens a LOT. But it may not be as bad as it appears. For example, if you were starting a new business, that likely involves risk (and most people fear this), as well as practices and disciplines of which others may know nothing about. Indeed, they may want to be supportive, but simply do not know how or are afraid to.

Then again, there may be others in your life who will not encourage, but actually discourage you from moving forward. Whether the motive is fear (which can still be rooted in good intentions) or malice (obviously, not!) is beside the point. Unless they have something positive to offer in form of constructive criticism or motivation (as in a personal challenge), then the best thing to do is keep your interaction with them in check.

By this point I do not mean cutting off ties or communication. Especially when it comes to family, that is often neither practical nor ethical. But it can involve limiting communication to avoid unhealthy and negative influence. But more importantly, it can also mean reframing their position not as anything personal against you (and it often is not), but as an affirmation that you might just be on to something!

In fact, it is not unusual for successful entrepreneurs to give credit (and even thanks) to people in their lives who actually worked against them. Indeed, the challenge by critics (and sometimes competitors) created more focus, and enabled the individual to tap into an energy and resourcefulness of which they were previously unaware.

Moving forward, seek the support, company and counsel of those who DO believe in you (see my previous piece, “Don’t Go it Alone“), and are willing to support you in your endeavor. Of course, you have heard that advice before. But when you feel confronted with opposition or negative influence from someone from whom you expected greater support, don’t concern yourself with winning them over–you don’t need that distraction. Nor should you let their lack of confidence hinder your belief in yourself–none of us need help with that!

Rather, realize that no one ever achieved anything significant in this world without being doubted, discouraged, and even opposed and marginalized by others–often by people who were close to them. God seldom sends us what we want; but He always sends us what we need. In this way, the naysayers in your life may have a positive role to play as your story unfolds, even if they don’t know it. None of us need people to hurt us, but we all need people to challenge us–even if it must be in a negative way.

And when that difficult corner has been turned and you have reached that milestone that they said you couldn’t achieve, you will have the fortitude and grace to say, “Thank you” (with perhaps just a hint of “I told you so”).

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