The Lie: I Have to Have It All Together
No one has it all together, and the people who are willing to admit that freely, who are willing to admit that first, will disarm and connect with the people they care most about in life. There are so many things we all universally struggle with, and when someone acknowledges this, we can’t help but be drawn to them.
The notion of disruption is one of the single greatest ingredients in innovation today. In a world where wearing masks of perfection and inauthentically assuring the masses that all is good, the person who’s willing to own their imperfections and deviate from the cultural norm will embody disruption in a way that creates for them an unfair advantage in their life, their work, and their relationships. Be that kind of disrupter.
Whether you’re in a business or personal relationship, being open about the things you’re struggling with makes you relatable, allowing you to connect more authentically. Whatever taboo you associate with admitting the things that aren’t great about your life, once you flip that narrative in your head, you’ll open yourself up to the possibility of community and results on a whole different level. Added bonus: if you’re in need of help, when you exhibit a little more honesty and vulnerability, you’ll actually have a shot at receiving what you need.
The Lie: A Drink Will Make This Better
For you it may not be alcohol, but we all have a coping mechanism that, if we leave it unattended, can spin into something that gets in our way. If you’re stuck behind a lie that has you using food, drugs, sex, sleep, passive aggression, self-harm, bad hygiene, withdrawal, or anything else to keep you from processing the thing you need to feel to grow, choose discomfort over coping. Choose growth over the unhealthy things that are going to keep you in your own way. It won’t be easy. It will be worth it.
The notion of drinking (or, insert your vice here) to help you mute your anxiety or frustration or fear presupposes that you can use it as an accurate local anesthetic rather than a general pain suppressant.
Don’t think you have to get through your struggles with vices alone. Rather, stack the odds in your favor to train yourself to make choices that serve you, supported by the people in your life who can help you get where you’re hoping to go.
The Lie: I Did Something Wrong, So I Am Something Wrong
We are the result of the life we’ve lived, but we only become prisoners of our mistakes if we allow it. You get to write the story of how your flaws have made you stronger today. You get to decide how you’ll use the narrative of what’s happened to you to create what happens to you next.
Choosing to learn from your mistakes, ask for forgiveness, express contrition, and go to therapy as needed to process these wrongs—those are steps in the learning process that can take your experience and turn bad to good. Staying wrapped in an identity as someone who’s wrong, who’s broken, who’s not the kind of guy or gal who deserves certain things because of choices in your past? That’s allowing those decisions to imprison you, letting a person you no longer are condemn you to a life that’s less than what’s available to you.
The sooner you can shift the way your mind interprets the indiscretions of the past—from a lifetime indictment of you as a person to a lapse in judgment that you can learn from—the sooner you can apply the lessons to achieving your goals.
The Lie: Everyone Is Thinking About What I’m Doing
Bernard Baruch has a great quote that’s often wrongly attributed to Dr. Seuss: “Those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter.”
If you’re holding yourself back because of worry over what other people think, you have to ask yourself if you’re giving the right kind of weight to the people in your life to regulate what you do and don’t do. There are voices you should listen to, but those voices are few and far between. Don’t give up the power you have to be who you were meant to be because of what people who are not thinking about you might think.
These people you’re worried about? Their fulfillment does not hinge on your success. It’s your dream, and because of that you have to make a choice. Are you going to keep people who are just casually a part of your life happy, or are you going to be fulfilled?
If you find yourself struggling to make a move or can’t get your motivation for taking that big step you know you need to take, it had better not be because you’re holding on to something wrapped in others’ opinions. Let it go.
The Lie: Being Right All the Time Doesn’t Make Me an Ass
You can either win every argument and have strained relationships for the rest of your life, or you can humble yourself to the reality that you’re not right all the time, accept help when you need it, and change your position when you’re presented with new evidence that points in a different direction.
Losing some battles to win the war is a thing. Even in the instances when I felt like I was absolutely right, fighting for that position on a topic that really didn’t matter wasn’t worth the collateral damage it might do to a relationship long-term. Not all arguments are created equal. The sooner you can appreciate that there are some things not worth fighting for, the better you’ll use your time. Work on building your relationships up for the times when you really do need to take a stand on something that actually matters.
The Lie: Failure Means You’re Weak
the most important takeaway here is realizing the immense value in reengineering your brain to appreciate the benefit and necessity of failure. Today’s culture has demonized failure, which means it’s on each of us to reframe it in a positive light as something you absolutely have to have if you want a rich, full life that continues to be better tomorrow than today. It means measuring success against a set of criteria tied not to how little you fail but how fast you get back up, how much you learn when you stumble, how the resources you needed to solve your mistakes have become part of your arsenal going forward.
It may sound crazy, but it’s not a difficult search. For every business you respect, every CEO you admire, almost every time their story shows how they’re now standing on top of layer after layer of failures, not successes. Familiarize yourself with as many stories like this as possible, and you will take the stigma of failure and turn it on its head, making it seem as though real success isn’t possible without failure—since it’s not.
The Lie: It’s My Job to Protect Them from Problems
We have a kind of brain in our heads that has, from the beginning of time, been about survival—and that survival sometimes required man to hunt and gather to provide for a family that waited for his return to eat. That centuries-old brain meets ego and societal gender norms in a place that tells men it’s our job to fix everything. That primal wiring, those pangs of ego swimming against the current in culture, they require baby-stepping through times when you don’t hunt and don’t gather.
When you allow those loved ones you’d normally fix things for to show that they can survive without your fixing things for them, they might actually thrive. Let your son crash on the bike (with a helmet), and let him dust himself off. Let your wife vent about a challenging day, and do only what she needs most: listen. Practicing this with the small things will give you the confidence and boldness to do the same when life presents a disruption you can’t fix or one where good comes from living through it.
The Lie: If She Doesn’t Love Me, I’m Not Lovable
No matter what you’ve gone through in your relationship history, don’t let the experiences of your past dictate what’s available for you in your future. I’m not saying you need to get all Ariana Grande on ’em and say, “Thank U, Next,” but carrying the baggage from a past relationship is the equivalent of handing a piece of you to the person who hurt you and asking them to hold on to it while you carry on as only a part of yourself. You, and only you, get to determine your self-worth. The sooner you come to appreciate that you are enough as you are, that you are good as you are, that you are worthy as you are, the sooner you’ll be available to connect meaningfully in relationships as your true self.
Those sound like the words of a crazy person, but hear this—you get to decide if you listen to your thoughts or not. You get to challenge the things you think and, even more, push back on why you think the things you do. The decision to not take everything I think at face value allowed me to change the narrative as I, instead, actively considered what was true and what wasn’t. If you don’t take the time to think about what you think about, you may just believe those thoughts in your head, even the ones that aren’t true.
The Lie: If They Don’t Need Me, They Won’t Want Me
Whether it’s a friendship or a romantic relationship, a connection based on need and not want isn’t a real relationship. Contingent love isn’t real love. Yes, you and I each offer something unique, but we need to be careful that the unique something is who we are and not some version of who we think others want us to be or some material thing that might cause us to question their motives.
We just aren’t friends with people who need things from us as a condition of our friendship. That seems so obvious, but it’s taken time for me to get there. If you find yourself in relationships individually or as a couple where you’re always the one expected to pay, drive, coordinate sitters, go to their choice of restaurant, or whatever it may be, you need to push to a place where there’s parity in the relationship, or you’ll come to resent it.
Some relationships go back so far that the idea that we’d hold that person accountable or, God forbid, consider ending the relationship seems super dramatic. Strangely, those years served sometimes lead us to give people grace proportionate to the amount of time they’ve been in our lives. Just because you played ball with Keith in fifth grade doesn’t mean he gets a pass to take advantage of you or your family. Just because you’re related to your aunt Sue doesn’t mean she can get away with leeching off you. Know the lines you have to draw for everyone important in your life, the ones that keep your relationships about you and not what you can afford others, and then hold all your relationships (even those people you’ve known forever) to that standard.
The Lie: Things That Are Possible for Other People Aren’t Possible for Me
As the most decorated American Paralympic snowboarder Amy Purdy put it, “If we can see past preconceived limitations, then the possibilities are endless.” She has prosthetic legs. And wins Olympic medals. What’s your excuse again?
Step 1: deliberately work to know what you believe and why you believe it.
Step 2: separate what you believe into things to keep believing and things to drop. If it doesn’t serve you and the ones you love, let it drop, or move to step three and modify it.
Step 3: actively make changes to what you believe in the areas that hold you back. Turn the limiting beliefs into empowering beliefs. The way you position that hard thing you went through is everything.
The decision falls to you and you alone to believe in the truth that you are here for a reason, that you matter, and that the outside measures are nothing compared to your belief in yourself, the belief of your being enough. You have to know with outright certainty your importance in this world, regardless of what your job is, how you look, or what stories you’re telling yourself. Don’t let your limiting beliefs sell a version of your worthiness that underestimates what’s possible for your life or chains you to a story that keeps you playing it safe, small, or not at all.
Know that you are enough today and every day, that you are capable and in control of what limits you’ll adhere to, and use that knowledge to propel yourself forward in a way that maximizes your potential. You owe it not only to yourself but to those who matter to you most.