Why is it that we tend to seek approval from authoritative figures?
We care what other people think, we have established this, however we care more about what our superiors think. Why is this?
We constantly need to be reassured about our work, about our appearance about our actions and our decisions. Why?
Of course people who are doubtful about themselves and who are insecure will need more reassurance than people who are positive and confident about themselves, this is obvious. However, I know people who still seek approval from others who have exuberance and who are self confident.
Ego is the enemy as Ryan Holiday thoughtfully puts it. It is the ego that is seeking this encouragement and comfort to know that what we do and say is up to other people's standards. Up to other people's approval. Our enemy, the ego, needs to be constantly fed.
The way this happens is through relying and accepting on what other people think about us, by listening to them heedlessly, ignoring the consequences they may present for us.
It feels great when you do something and someone who is in a higher position than you acknowledges and appreciates it. We then appreciate what we have done or said even more so than we would have if we didn't receive that support. We gloat at the fact that we got acceptance from the authority figure.
"If my boss thinks we have done something good/right then it must be good/right."
What happened to believing in ourselves? Why do other people's opinions matter?
They matter because we need social proofing, we need to know that we are understood and that other people can relate to us and accept what we are doing. We yearn to know that what we have done works. Works? Who determines what works and what doesn't work?
How about setting an example? Setting the standard. Taking the risk by going first without giving it seconds thoughts about what other people may think or if other people will except you.
This is scary, this is the unknown, and the uncomfortable. Very few people like to put themselves in these awkward situations. Yet this is when breakthroughs occur.
We fear going into the unknown because it feels good to do something that other people approve, especially someone in a higher position than you.
When I go into a clothing store, and try something on. Truthfully I have no sense of fashion, so I seek the approval of my girlfriend's opinion, if I am with her, or my friend's opinion. If I am alone I ask the sales rep to give me their opinion.
Notice how you built trust with the sales rep. Usually after having a comfortable conversation with them you tend to let your guard down. When you try on an article of clothing you ask them if it looks good, naturally they will say yes.
Do sales rep's have a biased opinion? Unfortunately, I want to say, yes they do. To some of them it is just another sale, this is especially true when they believe in their product. Their is nothing wrong in believing your product works, just remember it "never" works for everybody.
When you acknowledge the sales rep, it then becomes that little voice inside your head, and it then changes your perception.
We skew what we see in the mirror when we try something on by seeing ourselves differently than we would have if we didn't have someone comment about it. We think this because we assume that the sales rep is an expert and we are not.
Have we been manipulated?
They "plant a seed" in us it then grows because we cultivate that seed by feeding our ego. We can call this the art of Persuasion. Something I will write a new post about. Let's keep going.
I am not asking you to disregard what the sales rep says, neither am I asking you to be an expert in every field. However, a simple "mindfulness" of what other people think or say about you should be a habit of yours.
Do you ever find yourself working on a project that the boss has assigned to you, then half way into the project you are unsure if you are doing it right? At this point you feel that you need to consult your boss about it.
The Multiplier, intelligent boss, will support and encourage you to make your own decision, they will challenge you instead of telling you what to do as Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown tell us in their remarkable non-fiction book.
Ask yourself why do I need to have this approval? Why do I not feel confident in my decision?
Getting approval all the time, you will discount your aptitude and appear to your superiors as though you are incapable of handling the task. It is perfectly normal to fail. Embrace the failure, sounds easy I know, it is the hardest thing you could ever do.
Do not change your beliefs because someone else tells you something different that makes sense, and question everything that would make you seem less confident in your own capabilities.
There will be some nasty people out there that will make you feel small, unappreciative and will make you question your self-image and your skills. However, there are also people who empower you.
Is there anyone in between?
I feel I am getting a bit of track here.
I am scared.
I am scared that my writing isn't good enough, because I know that my writing needs editing. I am scared to face the courage of someone else's criticism head on. I am scared to take the leap, invest into my writing without having a clear precise end goal in mind. I am scared to ask for someone else's opinion on my work.
Even though it is there out for the public to see and judge. Hitting that publish button is easy. But sending someone the work and expecting to see what is worthy and what is not is a tough pill to swallow.
Even I need the approval of others, yet I am hiding from it. I am seeking comfort behind my keyboard and screen. Behind my ego, and what skill I think I have.
Thank you as always for getting to the bottom, will see you at the next post. To be continued....
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