So I just came back from a business conference in Phoenix, AZ where I was honored to be speaking as a finalist for Businessperson of the Year.
We each had around 30 minutes to present to an audience of 1000+. I went last.
The first two speakers were amazing.
In fact, the first speaker, Janette, literally had folks in tears. Her story was truly amazing.
The second speakers (they were partners) were full of energy and very fun. They started a healthy vending machine company that’s poised to do some really great things… very soon. When you see one pop up in your area, you’ll know what I mean!
I went last. I talked about my story and how I started Hearandplay.com with $70 at 17-years old in my grandma’s apartment. I then talked about some of my philosophies and how I’ve managed to run a successful business for nearly 11 years.
At this point, I thought I did great! I hadn’t got anyone crying like the first speaker but I certainly delivered the most content. So it was up for grabs.
Tons of people came up to tell me how much they enjoyed the presentation and that I had won their vote. Gosh, I must have shook at least 300 hands that day! I was exhausted. The signs were good!
(I should add, just making it to a finalist in this event meant we were all winners and we even talked about that amongst ourselves. It was a very supportive environment and all of us felt it could be anyone’s title).
But then a few “experts” that I knew from years back approached me! “Ahhh Jermaine, my vote went to you but the first gal’s got this! I’m rooting for you though!”
Then another guy jumps in, “you needed more emotion! You had the facts and the philosophies but you didn’t make anyone cry!”
Then my dad, who was standing next to me says, “yeah J, that’s what I was talking about. She had a hole row of women crying! I don’t know J!”
Of course, this was all in fun. I didn’t take them too seriously nor did I take myself too seriously. But who leaves 3 kids and a wife, and travels to the next state over NOT to win right? :-)
So I start doubting myself.
“Maybe I should have done this or that” … “Maybe I should have left that out” … “Maybe I should have did more of this or that…”
“Should…” “Should…” “Should…” (a very bad word when used like this).
Up until that point, I felt great receptivity from the audience. I had shook so many hands. I knew I gave people what they wanted. They were coming here to learn how to have successful, prosperous businesses and I believed I dug deep to deliver this from my many years of experience.
But still, I let folks talk me into doubting my decisions despite my history of having done literally hundreds of talks, presentations, and even sermons.
And when they announced my name as winner, guess what?
Those same folks came marching up saying, “Jermaine, I’m glad I was wrong.”
But the lesson wasn’t for them — the lesson was for me!
(This wasn’t the first time this happened. It took me back to 2007 when I was involved in another conference that crowned a “Business of the Year.” The same thing happened. And I won there too.)
So as I pondered these events, I learned many things.
1) If you’re doing something good, you MUST have doubters.
It’s one thing to quote this line. It’s another thing to remember it when in the midst of doubters.
At a gut level, I knew this. But, it’s something you have to be constantly reminded of.
When you’re doing something good, you’re going to have doubters.
There are dualities in everything! When there is good, there is bad. When there is certainty, there is doubt. When there is love, unfortunately there is hate.
So rather than saying, “Hmmm, they’re doubting me… maybe I’m not what I thought” … you say, “I can check that off the list. A few doubters… check! That let’s me know I’m doing good!”
2) Respect others’ opinion but don’t let it alter yours
There’s this phenomenon called “social proof” and it’s very powerful.
As humans, we rely on others to make various decisions we are unsure about.
If you’re at a fast food place and don’t know whether to leave your finished meal on the table or find the nearest disposal area, you’ll look around and see if others have left their meal on the table. If you find a few that have, you’ll leave yours.
That’s social proof.
It can be very helpful in shortcutting decisions in various situations.
It becomes bad when you let others make you think differently about yourself. Especially when you know WHO you are and WHAT you are capable of!
That goes for music and everything else!
3) Be certain
If you’ve done good, you’ve done good. If you’ve done bad, you’ve done bad.
Don’t let doubt worry you!
Pick a feeling, and simply stick with it.
Honesty is important here.
You’re not talking yourself into something false. You’re simply coming to grips with whatever is making you feel negative.
Doubt has a way of tearing at you. Because you keep thinking of the same thing over and over like a broken record.
That’s why you hear people saying things like, “You have to BE, before you can HAVE.”
You have to become the person, the musician, the professional you want to be even before you become it.
And you can’t become that person if you’ve got doubt running rampant in your mind.
If you’re nowhere close to becoming that person, you need to come to grips with that and put together a solid plan that will get you closer. If you believe in your heart you’re that person, throw away doubt and walk in confidence! And that lesson is for me too! :-)
Athletes must always believe they can win… even if they’ve lost the last 12 games. The past is never indicative of the future.
Boxers must always believe they can get a knockout. There’s no room for doubt or they shouldn’t be in the ring (that’s where self-honesty comes in).
So the next time you’re faced with a similar situation, remember this post!
P.S. – My wife and kids were glad I brought back the title and a $6000.00 vacation. Hmmm, where should we go?