You may not have experienced this personally, but you have heard people say they lack confidence because people verbally doubted their ability. Their abilities and value were challenged at an early age. They would never accomplish something. When they were older, they were told they were not qualified to do something or lacked the capacity or skill to achieve an objective. Their failure would be due to their socio-economic status, background, gender, race, culture, appearance or interests. These individuals were devastated and believed the negative remarks, hook line and sinker.
You may share my curiosity about people who go out of their way to predict a negative future about someone. They will not hesitate to tell a person that they will never earn a college degree, get into a particular college or program, and achieve a dream or a job, because of a limited vision of an individual’s potential. These misfortune tellers will frequently volunteer their assessment of a friends potential, as if it was a foregone conclusion. People are told that they will never be a leader, were not bright enough, tall enough, thin enough or good-looking enough to make it in this world.
I walked into a room of new district managers after a merger. I was struck by the number of individuals present who were never supposed to be promoted. They wore the label of being unfit for management from their previous organization. Hell was to freeze over before some of them became managers. I looked around the room and arrived at the conclusion that the weather forecast for hell called for an ice storm of momentous proportions.
We look at these negative prognosticators, misfortune tellers, prophets of doom and dream killers, and wonder;
• Are they clairvoyant, bona fide, certified Palm readers?
• What is their success rate or track record of predicting events?
• Are they famous because of their success with the lottery, betting on horses or investing in the stock market?
• Do they have the best grades in school?
• Are they the highest performers on the job?
• Are they independently wealthy because of their ability to select winners?
The absence of such data, should disqualify people from seeing into your future and making judgments on what you can or will not be able to do. Why should we listen to these questionable, nonsensical projections without proof of their credibility? We seldom subject people to this kind of questioning. We take their word and grant them the influence to affect our lives. I wonder how they would answer these questions. A
Personal achievement and productivity in many segments of our lives are influenced by what people have said about us. The words of misfortune tellers have stunted the professional and personal growth of countless individuals. The words are devastating, but we give them added power by believing the words must be true. This belief increases the predictive power of words uttered by people who are mean-spirited enough to attack our dreams without offering any constructive criticism to help us grow. Their motives should disqualify them for conflict of interest. It may not be that they believed we would, but they wanted us to fail. Somehow our success might make them look bad, as they take it personally.
We have to be careful around misfortune tellers, prophets of doom and dream killers. Words have power and should not be used to predict a negative future unless they are used to instruct someone in a positive manner. Granted, some people may have unrealistic expectations of their potential and you may feel it necessary to bring them down to reality. This can be accomplished in a positive manner by directing them to an area where you feel their strengths are more appropriate. This of course should be done if you have the right experience, skills and credentials. If you don’t feel someone can do something and it’s just your opinion, you must evaluate the reason for bursting their balloon. You may need to show wisdom by being silent and keeping your opinions to yourself.
The prophets of doom, live in the world of the worst case scenarios. They can be destructive if they only and always paint a picture of the worst case happening to you. Frequently, they point to personal characteristic or circumstance that you cannot overcome. They can depress you and cause you to give up trying, if they consistently fill your head with negative expectations.
The following chart should be helpful when faced with naysayers who are running around with sharp objects, leaping in the air to burst your balloons. The balloons represent your goals, dreams, positive intentions and lofty expectations.
If people say you can’t do something and you believe them, chances are you will prove them right. You will be discouraged and doubt your ability to go against their predictions. You give them the ability to influence personal perceptions and actions.
If someone says you can’t do something and you do not believe them, you will do everything within your power to prove them wrong. Their perception of you will drive you to higher levels of performance. You ask yourself, what gives them the right to say that about you, they don’t know you. You will show them how wrong they are about you.
If someone says you can do something and their belief is consistent with your perception, you will work in concert with their expectations. Your performance will more than likely be inspired, as you validate your personal convictions.
However, if someone says you can do something and you do not believe them, the result would be as if they said you couldn’t do it. Your lack of confidence and weak belief in yourself would undermine your success. There are instances when someone’s belief in you is greater than your belief in yourself. If they are persistent, you may eventually see what they see in you. It is important for you to keep an open mind and consider them a good judge of character. It is very difficult to achieve something if you do not believe it is possible. If you cannot see yourself performing in a certain role, it is difficult to achieve it or succeed in it.
Your belief system is a central part of performing to meet your expectations. There may be instances where outside forces will try to derail your progress, but a healthy self image, positive encouragement from others and a persistent drive to excel, will work to your advantage. In a competitive world where misfortune tellers, prophets of doom and dream killers work to stifle your achievement, you must be vigilant in growing skills, protecting and projecting confidence in your abilities.
Copyright © 2014 Orlando Ceaser
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