You are too fat!
You are too fat! These are the first words I heard when I announced that I wanted to participate in my first triathlon 11 years ago. You are too old are the words that I heard when I declared that I wanted to become a professional triathlete 10 years ago. These words didn’t come from enemies or even frenemies... These words came from close friends that deeply cared about me. And because these words came from people close to me, they carried more weight than if they came from strangers. Why would someone who cares about me say this to me?
Simple, most people are risk-averse. Humans, in general, do not enjoy being put in uncomfortable situations or face the discomfort of failure. These words didn’t come from a malicious place, they came from a place of insecurity. These words lack imagination and inspiration. They simply highlight the path of least resistance. They played on the obvious odds. Here is the catch though, these words aren’t even about their recipient but rather about the person saying them.
People around you will tend to deal well with your moderate success. Unimaginable success, however, is a different story. Surpass your friends’ accomplishments or what they think they are capable of and once again they will sing a different tune. For me, these words were my inspiration. I really enjoy proving someone wrong after they underestimate me. My reaction, however, isn’t necessarily the natural reaction of everyone reading this. It is very important to understand why people say things like this and understand that it has nothing to do with your success. Whether you use them to motivate you or simply dismiss them as they have no tangible correlation with the outcome you desire, it is important to make sure you never let them hinder your progress or your decisions.
One of the quotes I often use in business is that the difference between a genius and an idiot is in the outcome. Whether you are gunning for the Olympics or your first 5K, this sentence rings true. You make a decision that people do not understand or think has a high risk for failure and you succeed, you instantly become a genius. Someone that sees things differently than everyone else and everyone lines up behind you. You make the same exact decision and fail, and people are quick to say that your imminent failure was obvious from the get-go and that it was not a wise decision. People are quick to say I told you so.
Just make your own decisions and practice believing in yourself. At the very least you will have tried. Remember, if you don’t shoot, you will never score. So go ahead, sign up for your first 5K without having run a single step, or set a crazy ambitious personal best. Every amazing journey starts with a single step. Then practice like your life depends on it and make it happen! I know I have and while I didn’t always score, I sure have done my share of triathlons and had a fun professional career that started at the age of 31. And yes, all the naysayers that doubted me lined up behind me and became my number 1 fans. So, go ahead, prove to yourself and everyone around you that you can!