Some people have a cloud following them. Perhaps you do, too.
The cloud is filled with the pre-populated opinions of everyone you know. Manufactured exclusively by your brain, over years of your head being filled with unsolicited advice, opinions, and disapproval. (Yes, most probably from your parents. Consider therapy.)
It's annoyingly persistent.
The fastest way to fail?
Let the cloud make decisions for you.
The cloud of "what people will think" will hover over your head while you're busy doing other things (like existing). It will follow you to the bathroom. It will keep you up at night overthinking all the things you could/should/would have done if only you were smarter/wittier/somehow better, and it will destroy your life if you let it.
It stops you from not only writing, but from doing anything with your life AT ALL.
(Does that sound bad? It is bad).
In order to move on with your life and actually start doing the things, instead of watching other people do the things (or worse, watching and criticising other people who are doing the things), you have two options:
- Do things so quickly, the cloud can't keep up and can only stare in abject horror as you gleefully navigate life.
- (If you've missed the boat on 1) Examine the cloud.
Really take a good, hard look at it.
As you start to really explore the cloud, you'll come up with a few outcomes. The goal here is to explore and understand these outcomes, so we can move past:
Fear paralysis mode
(oh no what will people THINK if I express an opinion/start a business/dare to do something different)
'Don't care, doing it anyway' mode.
So, let's look at the most likely "what people will think" responses to putting yourself “out there”:
This is lovely for the ego, unless you deal with compliments like a vending machine trying to accept a wrinkly note (hint: poorly). Nevertheless, many people make the mistake of not trying to learn from their fans/followers. Try and learn something from them (usually in the “what would make my product better” line of thinking) because they’re generally ‘warm’ to you and willing to help. Deliver these people a shit ton of value because they will be your product/brand evangelists. Throw parades in their honour. Name your children after them. Etc.
You've got their attention, they think you've got some interesting ideas. You can usually convert these people into fans by delivering them more value. Do it. When they give feedback, listen.
You're not going to be everyone's cup of tea. And sometimes, they'll be vocal about their dislike of you and your ideas. It stings.
But you can learn a lot from these people. If they're giving you feedback about your product or service, try and make contact and find out what they were expecting, and where you fell short. Will this be uncomfortable and make you feel the hard feelings? Yes. Will it help you deliver a better product? Also yes.
THE AUDACITY OF THIS BITCH
These people hate you, your entire family, and everything you've ever stood for with the fire of a thousand suns.
Newsflash: these people exist. If you are a person in the world with opinions, there will be people out there who think you’re a giant arsewhistle*. Try not to let it get you down. Feed on their hatred. Snack on it. Spite success is absolutely a thing.
*Hatred is generally better than apathy. If you don't have at least a few haters, you probably need to share more opinions and write with more conviction about the things that matter to you. Some people will disagree with me on that, but it's fine because they're wrong 🌈.
You will Not Matter to some people. Do not waste your time trying To Matter to them. They are getting the exact same version of you as everyone else, and they still don't give a crap. Reality check: this has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with them. The beauty of this is that you can keep doing your thing, and they'll keep doing theirs, and the two never have to meet. Freedom!
You might be thinking some of these are terrifying.
And you're right! Life is terrifying.
Which is where this stuff comes in handy:
Here's what you're going to do:
Grab the salt.
Sprinkle that salt all over the terrifying opinions.
Liberally. Like Salt Bae to steak.
Sprinkling your salt can look like this:
- Knowing what your values are, and reminding yourself of them regularly
- Giving yourself breaks from social media and the neverending perfection parade (charade, more like)
- Not arguing with people on the internet (stay OUT of the comments section)
- Keeping a folder of affirmations/happy pics/amazing client feedback for moments when you feel like a fraud
- Minding your own business. What people think of you? None of your business. It's theirs.
- Remembering that your future is more important than your past. You can't change your past, but you can ABSOLUTELY shape your future.
- Look at your goals. Will other people's opinions help you achieve your goals or will they get in your way?*
*Hint: it's always, always the latter.
Why? the crux of it is this:
In order to be a fabulous, personality–driven (slightly evil) business genius, you've gotta get comfortable with people thinking things about you.
They will anyway.
So, grab your damn salt.
Is this easy? No. But life isn't easy.
If life was meant to be easy, we'd all be in yachts on the French Riviera arguing over the pronunciation of "tomato".
But we're not.
The most important thing is to do it anyway. Share your knowledge, build your business, do the things that scare you.
You owe it to yourself to AT LEAST try.
You're going to fail at something, anyway — we all do. It's how we learn, find our feet, and ultimately become great. Best get on with it.