You don't have to live your life the way other people expect you to.”
Chris Guilleabeau, author of The Art of Non-Conformity
I Am a Rebel . . . Is That Okay?
I have considered myself a rebel for a long time. I think of myself as someone who does what she wants, not what she's told. That's how I wound up studying abroad my freshman year of college when I was told that I should wait until junior year. Its how I wound up taking a year off from college and having the time of my life living in D.C. and working for Hillary and a lobbying firm. Its how I wound up moving to California to follow my boyfriend of less than a year at the time (the relationship didn't work out but California was amazing!). Its also how I wound up going to Nigeria by myself for a month to study and do volunteer work (even though it drove my mother mad). And how I wound up starting a law practice shortly after law school even though many people told me I couldn't and shouldn't and would wind up disbarred(!).
So there's plenty of proof that I don't live my life according to the expectations of others . . . right? Wrong. What I realized while reading The Art of Non-Conformity over the weekend, is that I do allow the expectations of others to stop me from saying, doing and even accomplishing certain things. The worst part is that some of those things are really important to me.
Mother, May I?
There are a lot of people that I don't bother trying to please. These folks include my mother, who I love dearly. Now if I don't even jump through tons of hoops trying to please my mother, why the hell should I jump through hoops for anybody else? Good question. However, I was surprised to identify a group of people that I try to “people please” — lawyers.
The lawyers who's opinions I have been concerned with are not my peers. They're also not law students who already think they know everything (they don't). The lawyers I concern myself with are typically lawyers at least 7 years my senior who have successful solo practices (hereafter, The Lawyers). I respect and admire these attorneys and worry about being criticized by them. In the past, when I wrote articles or copy for my website, when I contemplated the services I would offer and the prices for those services, I always thought, what would The Lawyers say? I have curbed my conduct and writing to be palatable to older, wiser attorneys. And it truly disgusts me to admit that.
What I have realized is that my concerns about the opinion of The Lawyers shines a light on my own insecurities. My irrational fears that I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing as a solo lawyer. What makes the fear irrational is that there are many lawyers in this category who have praised me for the way I built and run my practice or the way I conduct myself and very few who have criticized me. More importantly, I have proven repeatedly, one successful case or transaction after another, that I do, in fact, know what the hell I am doing. And I am pretty good lawyer, if I do say so myself. And that's what is scary.
It is scary to realize that you are in fact who you have always wanted to be.
Now that I have addressed this irrational insecurity and have acknowledged this “people pleasing” crap that I do, I am aware. I am sure I can't make it go away overnight. I am also sure that they are not the only group of people I try to please. But at least now, after every article I write or new service or product I offer, I will ask myself: Are you being true to yourself or trying to please The Lawyers?
Whose Criticism is Stopping You?
World Domination: “where you live a life of adventure and focus on leaving a legacy that makes a radical difference for other people. ” Chris Guilleabeau
So who are you subconsciously trying to please? Whose expectations are you allowing to stop you from your ideal life, or as Chris Guillebeau puts it, your particular form of World Domination? Whoever or whatever it is, please acknowledge it. Admit to yourself that you're not quite the rebel you thought you were and experience the freedom that is not letting anyone else's opinion stop you.
This is the work that is necessary for us entrepreneurs, rebels and World Dominators to do. Think about it: the worst that could happen if you truly let go of people pleasing is that certain people won't be pleased. Guess what? Certain people won't be pleased no matter what you do! Therefore, there is no point in letting that stop you. However, the worst case scenario if you allow the expectations of others to stop you, is that you don't fulfill your life's purpose, you don't live your best life and you don't dominate the world. Isn't that an unacceptable outcome?
Again, I'll ask: who are you subconsciously trying to please? Whose expectations are you allowing to stop you from World Domination? And more importantly, what are you gonna do about it?
Photo courtesy of David Drexler