To create is a lonely job. Whether it’s writing or painting or sculpting, or coming up with ideas for your next product, or even just trying to figure out the best timing for scheduling your days and weeks — creation is lonely, it is happening inside your head. You are alone with it; you are alone with your thoughts and your struggles, and you are alone with your success too.
When you look at your life only judging your final product, your finished painting, your published article, your written book — you are missing out on a lot. Hitting publish and reaping its success takes a lot less time than the actual process, and the process gets a lot less credit than it deserves.
The world won’t see the whole process — they will only see the output, the success or failure of it. Mostly the success, as we are rarely tooting the horn for our failures, except when we have already overcome it and can show how it can be turned into success. But it’s not just the success that needs to be applauded. The process deserves just as much appreciation; the standing up from a failure merits even more; the grit, the persistence, the tears — they are the elements that make it all real.
No one sees the whole picture, no matter how transparent you are about your methods, tips and tricks, and mindset and struggles — you cannot document everything, you cannot expect others to cheer for you at every minute of your journey.
This is why you need to become your own biggest fan — because no matter how many other fans you have, you need someone who believes in you all the way. And it’d better be you.
While life is not fair and there are objectively bad moments that you can’t change by the power of perspective — in lots of the cases, the evaluation of a certain event is mainly up to you.
Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. — Charles R. Swindoll
Life is made of a string of moments — and the value of these moments is decided by you. It is entirely up to you whether you deem a moment good or bad — whether you choose to find something good in it, you ignore it, or you find something negative.
The problem is that we, as a society, are quick to judge, quick to spot the negative and comment on it. We talk ugly to each other, the freedom of speech for some means that they can drag others down, we can ridicule each other — and we can get away with it. We internalised negativity and while we are trying to instil as much positive thinking to our lives as possible — talking about our successes is still frowned upon.
Talk about your struggles — fine. But don’t brag about your success, don’t boast about your achievements, don’t be egotistical, wait until others recognise you.
This is not how it works.
1 We need validation, both internal and external. If we are not allowed to self-validate for our successes, because we fear we are seen egotistical and big-headed, we are robbed from the possibility of feeling good about ourselves.
2 Us humans, we are inherently envious and jealous. Being happy for someone else’s success takes a really big person, a mature personality — and it’s not always granted. Therefore, we can never be sure how genuinely others are rooting for us.
You need to be your own biggest fan and root for yourself all along the way. How?
You need confidence
I believe that confidence is a muscle, the more you use it, the better you get at it. You need to start exercising, you need to practice being confident. In lots of cases, the only difference between two people is their confidence and their mentality that say strictly “no” to everything and everyone that doesn’t support them.
How to be confident? It doesn’t come overnight, but it can be built up gradually. Confidence starts with knowing how you would be if you had the confidence you crave. Visualise yourself as a confident person, imagine how you would look and act, how you would walk and talk, what would your posture and gestures be like. Imagine it, visualise it and then start acting it. Fake it till you make it sound deceptive, but you are only deceiving your loud inner critique here who tries to hold you back.
You need positive self-bias
You need to think about yourself as someone who is unstoppable. Someone who can accomplish anything you want. Believe in yourself, believe that you can do it. For no matter whether you believe you can, or you believe you can’t — you will be right.
Have you ever been in love? Do you remember that feeling when you were so infatuated that whatever your love did was magic, and they were bound to succeed? Do you remember that you saw them as invincible, perfect and capable of anything? This is the feeling you need to feel for yourself.
We are usually biased with ourselves — but too bad, negatively. We don’t think we are worthy, we don’t think we are enough, we don’t think we deserve other’s attention, time or energy. We don’t ask for help, we don’t ask for attention, we suffer silently and sulk in the corner. You need to turn this around — you need to think about yourself as someone very important. Start each morning with just 5 minutes of a pep talk, when you look at yourself with admiration and you congratulate yourself for every single thing you do.
You need to exaggerate gratitude
Being grateful is the single best thing that you can do for yourself. It shifts your perspective, it anchors you in the present, it focuses on what you have and not on what you lack. If you do any kind of regular gratitude practice then you are doing yourself a great service already.
Take it up a notch, to increase your positive self-bias. Express your gratitude for your own qualities, be grateful how great you are, how patient you are, how persistent, knowledgeable, clever, organised, precise, down-to-earth you are. List your qualities, exaggerate them if you must, thank yourself for all of them.
My favourite gratitude quote is:
What if you woke up today only with the things you were thankful for yesterday.
Use this to create your own qualities tomorrow.
You need to notice and celebrate your own success
I know a lot of people who just shrug their successes off. They are great and they are doing amazing things, yet somehow, they fail to link their success with their own abilities. They think or at least say — out of some fabricated modesty — that it is pure luck, they got help, they have no idea how it happened.
Recognising the things as they are is not being big-headed or egomaniac. An accomplishment is an accomplishment, whether you achieved it easily or not. You don’t need to attach conditions and excuses to everything you have done. You wrote 10 articles — wow, you are great! It’s not “only” ten articles. It’s not “10 not so good articles”. It’s not “only humour pieces”. It’s not “but no one really read it”. You wrote 10 articles! You deserve a pat on the back, at least from yourself. Especially from yourself, as you are the one who knows how much struggle and pain it was to get there! Come on! You know it is great, don’t downplay it — who are you kidding?
In lots of cases, you are downplaying your success only to get some acknowledgement from others. Saying “Oh it’s not such a big deal”, expecting someone to interject, “are you kidding, it’s huge!” is not the way to get noticed. If you consistently show up, you will be noticed anyway. Until then, make sure there is at least one person who is happy for your success: you.
You need to learn to take a compliment
Before you get to be your biggest fan, let others root for you. Let them compliment you, let them tell you how great you are. Let them believe in you even if you don’t believe in yourself. No need to instil doubt in them about the abilities they found extraordinary. No need to question their judgement. No need to reject their appreciation.
Learn to take a compliment. It’s really not hard. Two words: thank you. And a smile.
It doesn’t matter if you believe it or not, it is not always about you. It is also about them, about them wanting to show you they care, they appreciate you, they are there for you. You cannot reject people’s advances and gestures just because you feel unsure about yourself. You owe it to others to allow them to be there for you.
And eventually, if you let it, you will start believing it too, you will be able to open up for more of it, and you will be able to tell the difference between empty flattery and genuine appreciation. Until then, and even after: thank you and smile. Easy.
You need to let other people know about your success
The next step is to be so confident and so sure about yourself that you want to share your successes, without the need of downplaying them, without wanting to cover it up with excuses. You can learn to say: I am proud of this article. This is one of my most insightful pieces. This is my most emotional poem ever.
Do yourself a favour, learn to appreciate your own output. Be objective about it, and then be a little biased. Is it a good one? Then say it is great. Is it covering a topic that is important for you? Then say this is the most important topic of the month. Sell your own success, sell your own work, your ideas.
If you are not doing it for yourself, no one will. Don’t be shy about it. Don’t think that people really care or remember everything about you. Everyone has their own lives, busy, overwhelming, crowded with people and impressions. You can’t expect others to make you a priority if you think you are not. Act as if each message you said was the only thing you were going to say. Selling your own art and creation is really sales — be the best salesperson ever. Believe in what you sell and do an amazing job.
Be your own biggest fan, and watch the other fans appearing around you.
Cheer for yourself and let others cheer for you too.
Believe in your own work and then sell the hell out of it — you worked for it way too hard to just let it slip away.