When Others Don’t Believe In You

In an effort to write with greater frequency, my friends and I came up with the idea of pooling our collective brain power and writing once a week about various and random topics. The idea is that we’d each take a day of the week and publish our unique stab at the issue at hand. Thus, Random Writers was born.

We wrote down a list of things about which we’d like to ponder, discuss, and write. Then we took each item and selected at random, of course, 15 topics to cover each week through the rest of the year.

I was confidently blasé with our first topic: How do you deal with people who don’t believe in you? “That’s easy,” I told myself. “Two words: *bleep* you!” Really, why would I care if someone doesn’t believe in me? As far as I’m concerned, it’s *SHRUG* and move on.

The more I pondered it, however, the more I realized it’s not that easy. To just write off those who don’t believe in me is to grossly simplify the issue, and one of the purposes of the vehicle that is Random Writers is to provide depth and perspective; to flesh out in written word the questions and topics that may weigh us down at times.

I thought and thought and thought, and I kept finding myself striking out in terms of how to best answer the question. I searched through my past for examples of people who didn’t believe in me, and I had a tough time coming up with an instance that was applicable. I thought about how I would respond today if someone didn’t believe in me, and just like that, the answer presented itself. Well, part of the answer at least.

As a result of my internal deliberations, I discovered that how I would respond to such a situation is completely a matter of proximity.

There’s a saying. “If you want to be successful, surround yourself with smart people. If you want to be really successful, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.” I’ve tried to apply that in my life. I like to look at my collection of friends – my extended family, if you will – and see there are no idiots in the bunch. Sure, we’ve all had our idiotic moments – I myself am at the forefront of that list – but all in all, those that fill my life with love and support are smart, intelligent, and giving people.

As with most things, there are degrees.

There are casual acquaintances. You know, the ones you wave hello to from across the room and sometimes have a tough time remembering their names. There are also friends you know and have hung out with, but you see them few and far between, and the friendship is mostly confined to exchanging comments on Facebook or Twitter. Then there are good friends you invite to special occasions like weddings or holiday parties. And then I have my core, inner-circle friends. These are the people I’d call first if there were an emergency or crisis in my life.

The closer someone is to that inner-circle, the more I value their thoughts, feedback, and, most importantly, their opinion of me. This is what I mean by proximity. I couldn’t care less if an acquaintance of mine didn’t believe in me, but I would be quite devastated if one my core friends didn’t believe in my ability to accomplish something I set out to do. Same thing if they completely dismissed an idea or dream of mine. Because I hold in such high regard those that make up my core circle of friends, their doubt in me would in turn lead me to doubt myself.

The other part of my answer came to me in a dream, and I truly believe it was God helping me find what I needed in order to write this post. In my dream, I was living alone in an apartment and all my neighbors hated me. They wanted me to move out and they would remind of this on a daily basis by leaving boxes and other moving materials at my doorstep. I remember feeling angry and thinking how wrong they were. I remember promising myself in my dream that I would not move. Whatever it took and no matter how hard they made it, I was staying.

What that translates to for me is resolve. I am sure I will encounter many naysayers in my life as I pursue projects or ideas or help others in their own endeavors. I’ve learned the answer is not to simply dismiss them with a “*bleep* you”, but rather to look them in the eye and say, “Just watch.”

Be resolved in your pursuits and let determination be your fuel.  Couple that with keeping an open ear to the counsel of those you trust and respect, and success is sure to follow.

Please be sure to check out Jeff Smith‘s take on this question as he covers this topic in his blog on Tuesday.

To The Core

I am a huge sports fan. Even more so, I am a huge Miami Dolphins fan. I grew up on the Dolphins. The golden era of Shula, Griese, and the Orange Bowl. The arrival of Dan Marino and the Marks Brothers. The heartbreaking losses in Super Bowls XVII and XIX. Those are all part of my childhood and the bedrock that makes me the fan I am today.

Alas to say dealing with heartbreak is part of being a Dolphins fan. Their last Super Bowl victory came a month before my first birthday. They haven’t been to the big game since the 1984 season. Their last trip to the AFC Championship? 1993. Along the way there have been memorable games, breathtaking wins, and, of course, heartbreaking losses. Coincidentally, the two that stand out in my mind both came in the playoffs and both were against the San Diego Chargers.

The first game was the classic Epic in Miami. It was January of 1982 and both teams played a slugfest that went into overtime. You remember that game: the sloppy field, the hook and lateral play, Kellen Winslow being carried off the field by his teammates. I was nine years old. I remember clutching my fists as I knelt in front of the TV. Following a legendary Miami comeback, I was absolutely sure they were going to win. They didn’t, losing in overtime. I was a wreck.

The second playoff game against the Bolts was in 1995. Miami lead San Diego 21-6 at the half. The Chargers roared back to take the lead. The game came down to a 48-yard field goal attempt by Pete Stoyanovich. I remember watching the game at a bar on Bourbon Street. I was so confident. Pete never misses from inside 50 yards. “We got this!” I said rather confidently to a patron standing next to me. I was 100% certain the Dolphins were going to win the game. When Stoyo’s kick sailed wide right – and it wasn’t even close – my heart sank in complete disbelief.

It’s rare to hear me say, “I’m absolutely positive” about anything in life. I’ve learned to withhold the final 1% of certainty and allow room, no matter how miniscule, for the improbable. Still, there I was in 2005 telling everyone I knew about how certain I was things were going to work out in the end. I was in a relationship I shouldn’t have been in. I was married. She was married. We were in love. And through it all, I was 1000% certain it was meant to be. We were perfect together. We were made for each other. We were soul mates.

Then the improbable – or from my perspective at the time, impossible – happened.

Long story short; after years of promising to choose me for our happily ever after, I was instead cast aside for the safety of the status quo. It was one of those, “The devil that you know is better than the devil that you don’t know” situations. To say I was devastated would be an understatement. That moment was for me the event that shook me to my core.

*takes a deep breath*

I didn’t know where I was going to go with this entry when I started writing. I didn’t know what the ‘moral of the story’ would be. But, as I look at those events, now five years removed from my emotional ground zero, there is one thing that stands out. Time truly does heal all wounds and life does actually go on.

It just so happens I was sharing some parenting advice with a friend this evening. Her kid is having a tough time with peers at school, and I reminded her that getting through the tough times is what needs to happen in order to arrive at the great times. It’s just that all too often we can’t see the destination from where we stand today, especially when all we believed to be true is proven to be wrong. Still, as with those Dolphins teams in which I so passionately believed, there was always a next season. The promise of a brighter and better tomorrow is not a theory, it’s an eventuality. The trick is having the faith, patience, and courage to see it come to fruition.