One of the bigger criticisms of social media is the suggestion almost everyone is living an awesome life, except us. With thousands of people sharing the good stuff they’ve got going on it’s rare to see someone revealing the hard times experienced in pursuit of their goals. Rarer still to see them document a crash and burn outcome to one of their dreams. By and large social media gives all of us an incomplete picture. And that’s incredibly important when we question our insecurities and our sense of self-worth.
The other day I was talking with my good friend and mentor Vikki Malmberg. We talked about business and we talked about life, and the time it can take to succeed in both. It was at that point when I mentioned a well-known quote by Steven Furtick. “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”
Anyone who’s ever achieved anything worthwhile knows how tough it can be to do so. No matter what the arena, big efforts are required to reach our points of success. There will always be plenty of ups and downs along any road we travel toward our chosen goals. In business or pleasure that fact is nothing new. But those moments can be made all the more testing if we’re constantly comparing our results alongside everyone else’s. That’s where insecurity can thrive, and our self-worth is in danger of nose diving.
Many years ago I was caught up in that ruse. I used to measure my self-worth based on the happiness and satisfaction of others. I would never feel good about my own efforts unless someone else thought they were worthy. I kid you not, I wouldn’t allow myself to feel secure or worthy unless I had approval. This was such an awkward contrast to who I was as a person.
In my past I never thought of myself as a smart man, and I would dismiss people who openly admired my intelligence. I never thought of myself as being good in business, regardless of the KPI’s I had met or the bonuses I had received. In fact I never used to give myself credit for anything I had achieved. I always thought I should’ve done better. The reason for that behaviour? Because I’d compare my results against the success of others and immediately I’d feel like I hadn’t worked hard enough. Their results were always bigger faster better. Their wallet was fatter, their car was younger. Their toys were bright and shiney.
I was living the opposite of Stevens’ quote. I compared all that I had with nothing but my flawed perception. My insecurity was high and my self-worth was low. It took a near-death experience for me to come to my senses, and work on ways to avoid repeating those behaviours.
My solution was to hack my bad habits and begin creating new ones. I worked on taking time out to stop and smell my own roses. When I caught myself diminishing the value of my contributions, I immediately stopped such thoughts and asked myself the question “according to who”?
But the biggest hack of all, was changing who I associated with. Just like we can on social media, I began culling people in my extended social circles who I considered responsible for creating useless negativity. I began to seek out and mix with people who provided useful constructive criticism. I made sure to choose friends who encouraged growth through change. In others and themselves. Armchair critics be gone. I feel secure in my skin, I feel worthy in my soul. I am now surrounded by quality folk who are honest and willing to help those who ask.
Now, about the asking part. Pardon me for being frank, but I’m crap at asking for help. But every time I do ask, I’m reminded of why I should ask more often. If that sounds like you too, then you and I need to slap each other upside the head and get over it. The right sort of people are always willing to share what they know. Within my social circles are marketing gurus, business wizards, successful executives, and the most wonderful Dads and Mums. I am seriously blessed and grateful that I can call one friend about the best way to appeal to a specific target market, and another to discuss the beauty of indie films. I believe we all have help available to us, if we seek it out and pluck up the courage to ask for it.
The highlight reel is, after all, not the only side to a story. Everyone endures tough times. The road to success and achievement is never plain sailing. Social media fails to show the bad in anywhere near the same proportions as the good. Some people have suggested this leads many to believe they’re a failure before they’ve even begun. Self-confidence is running distressingly low these days, and we need to address it.
It’s time to stop comparing and time to change the conversation. Let’s make it all about the learning. When we see those highlight reels, we need to react with curiosity instead of animosity. If we see a piece of the pie we’re chasing, and someone else is eating it, then let’s ask them how they arrived at the bakery before we chastise ourselves that they got there first.
Ask for help and ideas from those who’ve already achieved. Don’t sit and feel less than worthy, how do you know they’re not willing to help you? Their highlight reel and your behind the scenes might be one and the same. Let your self-confidence be buoyed instead of beaten, and change the conversation that says otherwise.