Not everyone gets it.
Not everyone in your life understands the journey you’re on or the passion that fuels it.
They question. They minimize. They suggest. They imply. They doubt.
It can be incredibly disappointing and disheartening to realize that the people we most want support from, are often the exact people that just can’t give it to us.
Three things are usually going on – sometimes separately, but often together.
:: Concern for your well-being.
Will you have enough money? What if it doesn’t work? How will you pay your mortgage? Can you get another job if you need to?
This comes from a place of concern and worry. The way that gets communicated doesn’t always reflect it, but the intention is about your safety and security. Recognize this for what it is – love.
:: Breaking societal norms + the script they had for you.
While hundreds of new entrepreneurs pop up weekly, it’s still the exception to the rule. Most people will work a job, or multiple jobs until they retire. This is the safe, comforting path to take – nobody questions it. Until you do – and then you’re looked at like you have three heads. How could you not want this? Why would you want to risk it all for a lifetime of uncertainty? But you were just starting to get ahead???
This has very little to do with you, and everything to do with their own beliefs and expectations around life and the pursuit of work. The vast majority of people do not question the status quo or believe that another path is possible (for them). So, when someone in their world breaks these norms and challenges the heart of their core beliefs and expectations – it sends even the most supportive friend or family member for a big loop.
For some people in your life, there’s an undercurrent of envy that may now flow through your relationship. It will rarely be verbalized for what it is, and instead take on a passive-aggressive quality, “Must be nice to work from home and go to Starbucks whenever you want.” Ouch.
Most people, if they are really honest with themselves, want more from their lives than they are currently experiencing. Watching you take responsibility (and risk) for your own happiness, income levels and lifestyle can be an ever-present reminder that there’s something missing from their lives – unfulfilled potential or passion that has been pushed below the surface again and again.
So, when faced with a less-than-supportive person in your life, what do you do?
The best lesson I’ve ever learned is this:
“Don’t go to the hardware store for milk.”
We all need champions, supporters, people to lean on and those to give feedback. But we also must be incredibly choosy about who those people are. And we need to stop going to people who can’t give us what we need – it’s a lose-lose proposition. You walk away feeling frustrated or maybe even deflated, and they feel anxious and disappointed in your reaction to their support attempts.
Be intentional about who you invite into your inner support circle. Cultivate your own business advisory board that you carefully and strategically hand-select. These people should bring wisdom, empathy, understanding, experience, compassion and an attentive ear to your team. And they should just get it.
This team will grow and evolve over time. Don’t be afraid to bench someone who’s not showing up the way you need them to. It may sound harsh, but particularly in the early years of business, you need to be incredibly protective of your mindset. This doesn’t mean turning away helpful feedback or constructive criticism, but it means being aware of other people’s agendas and values – and not allowing those that no longer resonate to seep into your psyche and cause self-doubt and anxiety.
So cut Mom a break for not giving you the support you need. Stop asking your husband for business advice when he clearly can’t help in the way you want. And remember that your best friend may be stuck in a job she hates and secretly wishes she had the courage and gumption to strike out on her own, just like you.
The leading edge is far less populated than the middle-of-the-road. It’s not always easy – but the rewards are far richer. But it requires that you rely less on external sources to boost your own self-worth and validate your choices, and instead focus inward – becoming your own biggest advocate and champion.
Photo credit: Flikr, loop_oh