Believing in others is one of the single most powerful ways you can use your influence for good. Why? Because world change can only come from resilience built upon a foundation of unconditional love. Read on to see how this works.
When Worth Is Tied to Work
I sat back against the booth at the coffee shop, chewing on my straw vigorously and nervously. I was highly regretting that I took the risk to share something I’d been writing with my friend. Unlike much of what I post on Average Advocate, her opinion on this personal piece of fiction was vital to me. Too late I realized my value, worth, and everything deep and personal about who I was as an individual was tied up in that handful of pages I vulnerably let her read.
I wanted to snatch it back, protect myself, but it was too late. It was already out in the open. Now the question was, would I be validated or not? Would I sink or swim?
Ever been there? It’s a terrible, feeling, isn’t it?
The risk in sharing yourself–passions, ideas, projects, countless hours of work–in taking what bubbles up from within to let your inner circle (let alone the world) see it is one of the most challenge things we can do as humans.
And too often, this is what breaks individuals. The response loved ones give in these moments of vulnerability are usually what determines whether people will become who they were meant to be, or live behind a mask for the rest of their lives. It determines whether people will be part of changing the world, or will stay comfortable (and often unfulfilled).
We set ourselves up to fail when we tie our worth to our work. And we use our influence well when we tell those we lead that we believe in them despite what they produce–that they don’t have to prove themselves to us be loved, accepted and celebrated.
Are you able to seperate your worth from your work? Why or why not?
When 400 Hoodlums Don’t Show-up
“Resilience” is one of those popular words thrown about in social science academics. Although we never hear anyone use this word in everyday language, we all know we need the stuff that resilience represents.
A couple years back, I wrote the post, 400 Ordinary Hoodlums Who Changed the World. I sent it to all sorts of people I knew, even asking them to share it with their friends if they believed that together we could make a difference in the world. You see, I had tons (and still do) of ideas for projects, organizations, responses to big social issues, etc… The missing ingredient was to have enough people to pull them off.
That day, I asked four hundred people to believe in this vision of changing the world and commit to joining me.
I remember laying on my bed that night, anxiously waiting for notifications that people signed-up to be part of the four hundred hoodlums. But I only got fifteen or so sign-ups. Definitely not four hundred.
To make it worse, my husband was surprised I actually had believed people would respond. I wasn’t sure if it was just because he is rational and I am idealistic, or if it was more than that. . . maybe there was a problem with me. I didn’t want it to be, but my worth was tied up in the whole thing.
I wasn’t sure what to do. I didn’t know what to do with my disappointment about the lack of response, and then what to do with my husbands lack of surprise at the response of the world-at-large. And as such, I hid in the bathroom sobbing until I felt it was safe enough to come back out and get a hug.
When was a time that you felt like you failed after you risked when it was personal to you? How did you handle it?
When Resilience is Built
I still haven’t quit Average Advocate. I’ve recalibrated, but haven’t quit.
And I haven’t quit the LBD.Project to bring freedom to modern slaves, despite the times I’ve begged to move on.
If I had, I know our collective work in the world together, all the ways we’ve made a difference . . . these would have never have happened. And so, since 2010, this blog has been scattering seeds in the wind, hoping some take root.
(Yes, there is a time to pass things off or close them. But sometimes we can label something as “finished” as excuse to not be resilient and bravely persevere).
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thrown myself into the wind, hoping for a response I never got. The two novels I partially wrote, the presentations I’ve given, songs I’ve sung, plays I’ve acted in, moves across the country, moves and trips across the world, when I decided to go back to college, start that project, take that job, work in that ministry, marry my man . . .
I haven’t regretted any of these decisions. But each and every one was scary.
They all built resilience.
What have you thrown into the void that paid off–either helping you become who you were meant to be, or helping you make a difference?
When You Aren’t Believed In
Behind all of these risks, there were people who believed in me and encouraged me (like Jen, here).
And there were people who didn’t believe in me too. Some of these unbelievers were rude, and then some tried nicely pretend, but failed. (And some were my best friends.)
Even when we aren’t believed in, we have to pick ourselves up, brush off our pants, and separate our inherent value from whatever we risked as we shared it with the world. After we sow into the wind, if we can hold onto our worth, we can then evaluate the risk, learn from it, grow as individuals, forgive, rebuild and even start again.
That is what resilience is, folks. You don’t have to get up to prove yourself, your worth. You get up again because you are already were valuable enough before you fell. Your work doesn’t define you. Being brave, taking risks, trying again because you know who you are–that is what gives you the freedom to change the world.
Do you believe that you are loved and have worth, even if you fail? I assure you, you are (and if you don’t believe me, let’s talk about it).
When “I Believe In You” Is What They Need
Why am I resilient?
One of the most freeing moments of my life was when my husband passionately told me that I didn’t have to prove myself to him by changing the world. I finally realized that his “I love you” wasn’t conditional, although I had been treating it like it was for such a long time.
I am resilient, because far before that, I recognized that God loved me despite whether I changed the world or not.
NOTE: I know that many of you aren’t followers of Jesus, so let me take a second to explain. Even amongst Christians, being good enough, doing enough, following a law enough to be loved by God is a pervasive belief. Ironically, the book of Galatians (part of the Bible) declares that this ruins the whole message of grace for us (which is supposed to be the whole point of Christianity–responding in faith to God’s unconditional love). I guess it’s hard to get to a place where you can acutely know your faults while accepting unconditional love. But it definitely changed me!
I am resilient because as a child, my parents believed in me over, and over, and over again as I made good and bad choices, or performed poorly or well. They taught me that I couldn’t earn their love.
And I learned that I have inherent love and worth through many other friends, teachers, mentors, followers over the years.
It is their voices that I choose to listen to, playing time and again, like music in my head to war against anything that keeps me from bounding back in resilience.
You see, this is just my own story of risk taking and trying world changing things. It only exisits because of the resilience I’ve built within me. But that resilience is built on a foundation of knowing I am forever loved and believed in by those who I’ve decided matter to me.
If you want to change the world, know you are loved.
If you want to change the world, brush-off and in resilience recalibrate. And you can, because your worth isn’t in your work.
If you want to change the world, build this foundation in others by telling them you believe in them, that they have worth and they are loved unconditionally. Then they too will get up again and keep trying to make the difference they are born to make.