Recently, somebody said to me in a matter of fact tone, as if imparting a universal truth:
“Oprah said the other day that we all need validation.”
I asked “Who should validate you?”
“Well— he cleared his throat– I guess it’s me. I will validate myself.”
(Really?) If we were able to validate ourselves we would not have to ask for validation from others (fans, friends, family, readers, etc).
“If so— I asked– will you validate yourself even when others do not validate you?”
“Well, I need others, I want to connect, I don’t want to be alone, I am not one of those people who want to do it alone.”
Validation implies acceptance and appreciation. Receiving validation, we know that we are needed, loved, appreciated. Receiving validation shows that others find us “Valid.”
Connection, support and feedback—yes, we all need them, we should cherish them as great gifts, and we should offer them generously. They are not the same as validation.
You just started a new business and it’s hard; you’re writing a new book and it’s confusing; you are building a new house and it’s expensive; you quit your job to travel the world and your friends think you’ve lost your mind; you are excited beyond words, and frightened beyond words. Will it work, will it not work? Will you lose money, time, face or friends/ family over this amazing new adventure? Are you right? Are you wrong?
You are well on your way with a new project — suddenly, you don’t know, anymore. Are you seeking inner or outer validation at this moment?
In each instance, you give yourself truly to the endeavor of creating a new experience, business, book, house or new life– without knowing the final result. When you don’t receive approval or you feel you are not validated– will you go ahead anyway?
William W. Purkey’s words were quoted so many times that they became common place. Still, who truly lives their life accordingly?
“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”
Rejection (overt or implied) can be such a healthy mechanism. It can help you focus and clarify your thinking, it can increase your inner ardor and strengthen your resolve, it can show you the path not taken, it can show you that something is not working in a present incarnation, and it can help you find a new product/service that otherwise you would have not considered.
Validation may come later when you are already successful (people will say, “I knew it all along, I knew that you would be successful”). Or not!
Either way, by the time you are done with your work, you would have validated yourself simply because you could NOT not follow your heart– so strong was the inner call. On the way, you will get plenty of feedback and support. Joseph Campbell, the great American mythologist, wrote “I feel that if one follows what I call one’s “bliss” — the thing that really gets you deep in your gut and that you feel is your life — doors will open up. They do! They have in my life and they have in many lives that I know of.”
Working with young entrepreneurs who are excited to play, and enjoying every minute of the game of discovery, I see less need for validation. It’s quite interesting to me since kids need a lot of guidance and encouragement while they are in the process of developing identity, and particularly when we support them to become powerful leaders.
Kids are so involved in the game of starting a new project or a new venture, that the pleasure of doing and playing overrides the fear and the need for validation.
Could we all play the game of “this- is- so-important- to –ME- that- I- will- go- ahead and –do- it- even –if- no- one- validates- me?” It can be a new business, a new book, a new job, a new gig, a new anything—anything that forces you to come out and play as if nobody is judging.
Can you validate yourself today?