May 192014 9 Responses

Never Try to Prove Yourself

Either you are capable or you aren’t. There is no real in between. You either have the skills necessary or you don’t.

Time will prove it.

And because time will prove it, there is no need for you to prove yourself.

We’ve all tried it. We’ve been put in a position which the critics think is over our head or the naysayers loudly proclaim we didn’t deserve.

We think to ourselves, “We’ll show them.” And then we try to prove ourselves.

But it doesn’t work. (See: Three Reasons People Criticize You)

It never works.

There are two main reasons trying to prove ourselves doesn’t work:

1. When we focus on proving ourselves, we tend to press. We aren’t just trying to do what is right, we are trying to highlight that we are doing what is right. It’s distracting. It forces us to focus on things which shouldn’t be our concern. We become obsessed with how others perceive us. We feel an unending need to justify every action. The surface becomes more important than the substance.

2. Trying to prove ourselves to the naysayers and critics is pointless. If they believe we can’t do the job, there is probably very little which will cause them to change their mind. Confirmation bias will cause them to find something to confirm their beliefs. Even if you succeed, they will likely chalk it up to luck or the work of another. Every mistake will confirm their opinion and every success will be viewed as an aberration. People rarely change their mind about other people so trying to prove ourselves to our critics is not worth it.

While there are two reasons it doesn’t work, there is only one reason why we should never try to prove ourselves—because it causes us to place all our attention on ourselves. (See: What No One Ever Tells You About Being a Leader)

It’s selfish and self-centered.

Leadership should never be about us. It should be about service and assisting those around us. At its heart, it’s about love and love is never focused on self.

When leaders try to prove themselves, they stop focusing on those they are called to serve and they start using others to serve their own self-interests. (See: What Should a Leader CARE About)

Far too many leaders suffer from insecurity.  They hear the critics and fixate on those who think they will fail. The insecurity causes them to try to prove their ability to lead. Unfortunately, when a leader tries to prove their ability, they stop leading.

You can’t do both. You can’t focus on proving yourself and focus on leading at the same time. You must pick. And too many leaders pick themselves instead of their people. They spend more energy trying to prove themselves rather than doing what is right.

So what should you do?

If you should never try to prove yourself, what should you do? The answer is to simply love and lead.

Assume that time will prove whether or not you had the ability. Understand there is nothing you can personally do to change the mind of those who are against you. Realize you only control one thing—you. Put all your energy into loving and leading those you are called to serve.

If you have the ability, time will prove it. Since time will prove it, there is no reason for you to do so.

Do you have critics? Are some hoping you will fail? (See: Leadership, Leaves, and Why We Should Never Give Up)

If so, get over it. There is nothing you can do to change their mind so stop trying.

If so, forget about it. You should not spend any energy trying to prove yourself.

If your task is challenging enough and the mission important enough, it deserves all your energy.

Love and lead because there is nothing to prove.

9 Responses to Never Try to Prove Yourself
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