Who the hell do you think you are?!?
This question can come to us in a multitude of ways. At times it is downright hostile or judgmental, other times shrewdly snide and condescending. Occasionally it is actually spoken yet more often than not, we feel in a discomforting, uneasy way that even though someone else may not be speaking this question to us, they are asking it in their own mind more often than not packaged in not so subtle but always charming, criticism and contempt. The self-righteousness and hypocrisy with which we are capable of treating one another can be downright astounding.
Now I am painting a rather bleak picture to make a point of the provocative and nearly amusing irony that arises from the fact that we often encounter the harshest and most scathing criticism when we are about the business of doing and achieving our very best. I have yet to meet a single soul that is as seethingly critical of another’s’ failure as they are of another’s success. I am not entirely certain why we find ourselves so threatened by the success of others. Maybe we feel the sting of the have and have not mentality. Perhaps when others expect and achieve More for their lives we internalize a personal feeling of being less. Maybe it is as cliché as “misery loves company” and maybe the reality is we crave the freedom to pursue abundance and feel slighted when someone else has the courage to actually DO that which we have done little more than DESIRE. I cannot claim to have exhaustively researched the reason for this phenomenon. But I do know that the cure for the condescension is to know with absolute, unapologetic certainty whose opinion matters to you.
To be sure, EVERBODY has an opinion, at the same time we all realize it is the world’s safest bet that we cannot please everyone. Therefore, I have acknowledged in life that there are a handful of extraordinary people whose opinion really and truly matters to me. People whose thoughts, wisdom and judgement I admire and esteem as wonderful measures for my own life and choices. Their lives, their inspiration, their achievement, soulfulness and compassion raise the bar; calling me like a siren song to become better than I am. If they were to call my attention to something I could and should do better I will absorb their input like water in the desert, realizing their thoughts come from a place of care rather than critique. Now the most important truth here is that I am not seeking their approval and they are never looking to pass judgement. Seeking approval is akin to being a lap dog. Constantly chasing the next “Atta boy” or hoping someone will scratch you behind the ears and say “good job.”
If we want to create excellence and abundance in our life we need to surround ourselves with those who inspire and encourage that journey. Those who would block our way and malign you for your “selfishness” for your uncompromising commitment to the extraordinary are, in truth, hungry for your vision. Let’s look at it this way: can we imagine a parent who asked their seven year old what they wanted to be when they grew up and when the child said, “a doctor, an astronaut, an Olympic athlete or the president,” that parent responding to their child with a reprimand for being so selfish as to envision the extraordinary. Can you imagine a football coach scolding his team for demanding excellence of both themselves and their teammates? Can we visualize a teacher berating a child for getting and “A” on their math test? “How selfish of you to work hard and excel! Who do you think you are? Are you trying to make all the other kids feel badly?!? It’s all utterly preposterous.
Yet for as ludicrous as this all is and sounds, somewhere along the line we begin to cater to the critics and lessen ourselves, our goals, our dreams and our vision of possibility so as not to offend. Now, does pursuing excellence entitle any of us to become so absorbed with our own achievement that we are dismissive or unconcerned with others? Of course not. But anyone who achieves at the expense of others is not pursuing excellence they are chasing undeserved applause.
We all have our unsteady, uncertain moments. Moments where we doubt ourselves, our ability and our right to the extraordinary. Moments when we look around to see who is watching and concern ourselves with what they might think about our life, our Purpose, our choices. Those that want the best for you will encourage you to believe in the abundance, joy and achievement you deserve. They will support you through your failures and encourage you to in your wildest hopes and dreams. They will remind you of your calling toward character, kindness and steadfast principles and never tolerate you being anything short of astonishing in these regards. So, “who the hell do you think you are?” The answer is anything you want to be. Just know who matters and what matters. Empty your pack of the burden of influences that cause you to doubt, question and agonize over their approval. Leave behind the wondering and the worrying. Exhaustive efforts toward winning the approval of a crowd of critics is a fool’s errand. Once you believe in your Why and your worth…now ANYTHING is possible. Now you have made the changes that will allow you to change the world.