How to Stop Outsourcing Approval

One of the things Andrew and I have been doing recently for continued growth, both of our personal and business lives, has been going through Conscious Leadership Coaching since August of last year. One of the first things they have you do is take an Enneagram test to see “your number”. My results said I was a number 2, the helper.

The helper sounds great on the surface. Someone who is loving, helpful, generous, and considerate. People are drawn to you and you help others see positive qualities in themselves. Two’s can give off a sense of endless patience and immense compassion. Something I’ve been told I have in teaching FitKids classes to ages 4-8. ...Endless patience? Not totally.

What I found really interesting about each number is how there are positive and negative patterns within each. You can perform actions of a “healthy” version of your number, or an “unhealthy” one. The most important part about learning your number is the emotional awareness you create within yourself. You can recognize unhealthy patterns at their onset, and then shift towards your healthier traits.

One of my most unhealthy patterns is relying on the approval of others. I’m getting much better with it, but social media does not make this pattern easy. Likes and comments on our posts are today’s preferred vehicle of approval. The more likes we get, the more we want to post and work for more likes.

At times, approval is positive, it can give us encouragement to persevere through a tough time. But other times, the absence of approval can be defeating enough to make us quit altogether.

During the first few years of owning our gym, my outsourcing of approval had me so defeated I wondered how much longer our gym would survive. No matter how many lives we changed or how many people sang our praises, it was always the negative voices of disapproval that sounded the loudest.

Granted, business owners have to listen to the market in order to serve them, but your vision can’t rely on the wishy-washy approval of others.

The greatest businesses and organizations in history had leaders who had a vision that was greater than their idea’s approval rating. Steve Jobs and his company Apple, are one of those visionary businesses.

Steve Jobs was once quoted, “Some people say, ‘Give customers what they want.’ But that’s not my approach. Our job is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do. I think Henry Ford once said, ‘If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me, “A faster horse!”‘ People don’t know what they want until you show it to them. That’s why I never rely on market research. Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page.”

I just finished listening to the audiobook, “That Will Never Work: The Birth of Netflix and The Amazing Life of an Idea” by Marc Randolph, one of the founders of Netflix. He appropiately titled the book so, after many people including his own wife, told him that DVD rental by mail will NEVER WORK.

There were people that told the founders of AirBnB that people will never want to rent someone’s house from them. People told Walt Disney he was crazy for taking all his profits from his films and pouring them into his crazy amusement park idea.

Let’s face it, people are wrong...a lot. People said we’d never buy shoes or clothes online. People will say your ideal market is already too crowded, or no one will ever buy that anyways. People will tell you you charge too much. People will tell you over and over again why you can’t do something.

It’s time to stop listening to people.

There’s something even worse than letting the disapproval of others knock you down.

And that is letting YOUR thoughts about POSSIBLE disapproval, knock you down.

Yes that’s right. Sometimes we don’t even put our ideas out there in fear that disapproval will come.

I love this quote from Steve Harvey on one of his Family Feud post-show chats. If you’ve never looked up one of his speeches please do, you can look up “Steve Harvey, Imagination is Everything” to find this gem. He said, “If you want to kill a big dream, tell it to a small-minded person.”

This is so good...I have to keep going with this quote...
He follows by saying “How many times have you had this really incredible idea and you took it to your family and friends, you shared it with them, and they shot it down? You know why they shot it down? Because they couldn’t see it. Because God didn’t put it in their imagination. He put it in yours.”

Speaking honestly here, I think speaking your dreams to anyone is brave, and you’ve already beat the fear of possible disapproval.

The disapproval of others should be expected. What you do with that disapproval is really what matters.

You can look at these visionary leaders and admire their incredible perseverance, but at the core of their approach is a simple principle, stop outsourcing approval.

If you find yourself constantly battling disapproval of others, recite Marc Randolph of Netflix’s favorite saying, “Nobody knows anything.” Sometimes he’ll follow that line with this addition, “...including me.” “Nobody knows anything, including me.”

He knows that no one has all the answers, and he’s humble enough to continue seeking answers too. If we want to have real perseverance, we have to know there’s more growth ahead for us.

If you want to accomplish anything worth accomplishing in this life it’s going to be hard and it’s going to test you. You need perseverance, and perseverance can be fleeting when it relies on others to keep it going.

Perseverance has to come from within you. You set your own approval metrics by your own accord or from your God above. Focus your attention on the things you can control, because you’ll never be able to control the approval of others. That I can guarantee you.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about my own obsession with approval it’s that I often played small for small approval wins. In baseball terms, I went for mostly singles, maybe doubles, while not swinging for the fences. I’ve taken this hitting for an ok average to life and that’s really no way to live.

I think it’s time we start living bigger, loving bigger and putting ourselves out there more. Go for the things that make you happy and would make your life worth living.

Keep Living Life to the Fittest,
Coach Tony