What Success and Teenage Dating Have in Common

A few weeks ago, my teenage niece and I were talking about boys. (Imagine that!)

She mentioned there wasn’t a specific boy she liked, but her body language said otherwise. I saw my opportunity to give “I’m not her mother so maybe she’ll listen to me” advice.

So I told her that when she does meet him, it’ll be hard to resist the temptation to be the person she thinks he’ll like. It will feel so worth doing, but ultimately she’d be setting the stage for an unhappy ending.

She hung in there for the entire conversation but I’m not really sure how much sunk in – she is a teenager!

However, our chat got me thinking about how much of that teenage dating pattern follows us straight into our professional lives. And often with the same results.

We all want acceptance and approval.

It’s human nature.

But it also inhibits success.

When you focus on conforming to other people’s expectations, real or imagined, you shove yourself into a very small box.

And your inner critic has a field day.

“What if I say something stupid?”
“What if everyone thinks my new idea is wacky?”
“What if I disagree and people think I’m a pain?”
“I could never wear purple when everyone else wears black.” (Better known as “I can’t be too different!”)
“I have to do it that way or they’ll think I’m stubborn, nutty, incompetent, [fill in your favorite word].”

It’s right back to the days of, “What if that cute boy / girl doesn’t like me?”

Authenticity powers success.

When you’re busy being who you think you’re supposed to be, you aren’t living from your strengths. Instead, you use up an enormous amount of energy stifling the real you. And eventually your self-esteem erodes.

None of which fuels your career.

When you embrace who you are and step out of your comfort zone, just the opposite happens. (And yes, the cute boy, or girl, might not want to hang out with you anymore. But the right ones will. 😉

You find yourself willing to take more risks. You’ll have more energy and enthusiasm for what you do, and you’ll be able to truly use your gifts.

All of which breeds success.

It starts with expanding your comfort zone …

One step at a time.

Occasionally you need to take a big leap, but usually it’s most effective to stretch gradually.

Take a deep breath and speak up once a day when otherwise you would have bitten your tongue. Give yourself permission to disagree when the stakes are relatively low. Offer up one new idea a week.

Try anything that puts your foot one step outside of where you would normally go. And then keep stepping. One day, one week, one month at a time. You’ll be surprised how quickly you progress when you stay consistent.

Let your true gifts, strengths, and personality shine through, and you set yourself up for ever-greater success.

And as a bonus, you’ll be happier!

“I would much rather have regrets about not doing what people said, than regretting not doing what my heart led me to and wondering what life would have been like if I’d just been myself.”
~Brittany Renée, English Author and Dancer


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