“You have to validate yourself, as well as getting validation from others. You have to give yourself licence to be great, to be different, and to lead the way. To run your own show.”
I want to start by asking — how do you know if you’re good at something? This seems like a logical place to start. I mean, why pursue something you suck at? If you’re not good, you’re probably not going to enjoy it much either. But, it’s not always easy to tell how good you are…
Most people search for validation from others, which is sometimes the only real barometer you can use. However, for me, it’s not as simple as that…
A lot of my spiel is centred on my belief that anyone can achieve anything if they are willing to pay the price. So, if someone says you’re crap at something, prove them wrong by learning and then doing. Learn to be better, and then ultimately – how to win at anything.
So, how do you know when you should pursue something? Or, how long should you continue to pursue something if you aren’t getting the results? When should something be marked down as a failure?
Some people have continued with bad businesses and lost everything. Others have downed tools when they are just one dig away from the gold. They didn’t know how they were doing, and therefore failed miserably. That is why this topic is so important.
How do you know if you’re good at something? And, how do you know what you should pursue in life?
Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast answer – most things are subjective, and everybody is different. So, we need a kind of thought process that everyone can relate to, and follow.
Of course in some vocations, such as sports, it can be easy to know whether you suck or you’re good. In golf, everyone has a handicap; this one little number tells the world how capable the player is. In football, there are stats and analytics – performance can be measured, to a degree.
This applies in games too. Chess masters are ‘masters’ because they continue to win. There is a reason some make millions playing poker, and others don’t. Their earnings and their victories are the barometers of their ability.
What I want to address here though, is art forms and careers in which a person’s capability is much more subjective, especially when they’re just starting out. There are no hard facts and figures, they have to find out some other way whether or not they have ‘it,’ or if they have any realistic chance of learning enough to master the craft.
I think I’m a good writer, but I don’t really know, that makes this quite hard sometimes. It’s the same in other art forms. How does an actress know if she is good or not before she is cast for anything? Should she give up? Will her ‘big break’ ever come? If a movie does well, is it because of the writing, acting, timing, or something else? Most of the biggest stars have had failed movies. Some unheard of actors have had major roles in blockbusters.
Of course there are critics, awards and such like that can indicate a success, however I want to look deeper – these awards are just created by other people. Who are they to decide really? Art forms are subjective, after all.
I think this deeply about education too. I can pass a test and be thought of as clever, but that test was devised by a person; why are they the judge and jury? I am allowed to drive a car because one guy said I passed the test. A test created by some ‘experts,’ but who are they, and why are they in their position?
All critics, experts, instructors, examiners etc. are all just people. In a world where no one really knows anything, why should I seek validation from others, regardless of who they are, their ‘expertise’ or their ‘experience?’
Why can’t I just do what I want and then validate myself?
Whilst this sounds like a good approach if you believe you can achieve anything like I do; there is however, something else to consider…
We all rely on others for most things in life, whether we like it or not.
Just think of the journey all the ingredients went on to arrive on your breakfast plate this morning. It probably cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the labour of hundreds of workers to create that one plate of food. The farmers, the factory workers, the food researchers, the makers of all the equipment, the engineers, the lorry drivers, the butchers, the bakers and many more all played a part.
It’s a similar story for the car that you drive, for the clothes that you wear, for the home that you have, and most other things that are essential to your livelihood.
As humans, we rely on the work of others to make things happen, and ultimately, to keep us alive. We are all a part of a great network of excellence.
All these industries have been going for hundreds of years, with wisdom distilled and passed down over generations to continue the operation of our great eco-system. So, maybe the validation of others is important…? We’ll come back to that.
OK, but how do I know what I should do?
Try everything that excites you, if after a while it still lights your fire, and you get great feedback, then you’re on the right track.
Oh, and this article will help — How to Find Your Purpose in Life
What is a tell-tale sign that I have to pursue something?
If people are constantly telling you that you should do something, then you probably should.
But remember: a great skill, service or product, does not automatically mean it will make a great business. Just because people like what you do, doesn’t mean they will pay for it. Test the market by getting a customer first, or ten.
When you do this you are far more likely to succeed, and you’ll hit the ground running. You know you have something that people will pay you for, before you spend a lot of time and money on developing your idea.
Whether it be a skill, such as painting, writing, design, or a physical product: get a customer first.
How do I get good enough to win big?
You have to believe in your own ability, and have the desire to constantly improve. And most importantly: you have to DO. You only learn the important lessons by learning on the job, they cannot be taught in a classroom or through a piece of writing. It’s OK to suck at first too — most people do when they start something new.
Secondly, eventually, you will need some validation from others, namely – your customers, and those in your industry who can give you some exposure – the industry ‘experts’ and influencers. Your customers are ultimately the one’s consuming your work and paying you. Industry experts and influencers will be vital in helping you grow your reach. You don’t need a mass of connections right away though, get started and this will come with time.
When you have the self-confidence gained through constant improvement and validation from the right people – this is the holy-grail. Get to this point and nothing can stop you.
How do I know I should continue?
For me, I’ve always enjoyed writing and I’m always improving, that gives me self-confidence. I get paid for it through my business and I’ve had some great feedback, that’s my validation from others.
So, as long as it is adding value to the world, and I am enjoying it, I will keep doing it.
Self-confidence + constant improvement + industry validation = abundance.
Strong sales means you are good enough in the minds of the right people — your paying customers.
How do I get access to opportunities when I’m starting out?
There can be huge value in doing something for free initially. Try it, get some honest feedback and open some doors. I don’t make any money from writing these articles directly, they are all available for free. They do however showcase my writing — they’re a great gateway to paying opportunities. Can you do the same with your craft…?
This could be through a product giveaway. Or take it upon yourself to produce some work for a business you want to work with, then send it to them for free.
If I want to write for a specific company, I’ll do a piece for them and send it to them without expecting anything back. This is way more powerful than just trying to sell yourself with no personalised approach, or proof of what you can do for them.
If you can do something similar, why not get started today?
So, what now?
For those who are not content to be a pawn in the big game of life, or those who want to revolutionise the way we do things, for those who seek to make a real difference to thousands, maybe millions, for those who want to live an extraordinary life — you have to do things that others are not prepared to do. You have to validate yourself, as well as getting validation from others. You have to give yourself licence to be great, to be different, and to lead the way. To run your own show.
Try anything that sets your heart and mind on fire. Master your craft by constantly learning and improving; by doing. Seek validation from the right people — your paying customers and influencers. Leave your own unique legacy, and maybe even develop something that will still be making a difference long after you’ve gone.
Go and get to work!
Thanks for reading! I would love to know what you would add to this, please, please leave a comment or DM me your thoughts on Instagram. As a writer, there are no certain pathways to success, perhaps you have a story or some insight that can help me on my journey!